Heinrich Klaasen said he had “worked my whole life” for a superb hundred that powered South Africa to a crushing 229-run World Cup win over champions England. Klaasen’s 109 was the centrepiece of South Africa’s huge total of 399-7 in Mumbai on Saturday. His innings was all the more impressive for being made in oppressively hot and humid conditions he likened to “batting in a sauna”, with Klaasen repeatedly suffering from cramp as temperatures soared to 36 degrees at the Wankhede Stadium.
Klaasen also received superb support from Marco Jansen during a commanding sixth-wicket partnership of 151 in a mere 77 balls.
Jansen made 75 not out, his maiden one-day international fifty, before reverting to a more familiar role of left-arm quick with a couple of early wickets as England slumped to 170.
Klaasen, after what was just his fourth hundred in 45 ODIs, paid tribute to Jansen for seeing him through to the landmark.
“I had to dig really, really deep there. I didn’t have any energy left,” said Klaasen.
“My partner Marco played a big part in that,” added the 32-year-old. “He told me that he’s got me and that I’m not allowed to walk off the field if I don’t score a hundred.
‘Breathing in hot air’
“It was like just breathing in hot air. Every time you try to run it’s just sapping more and more energy and then at the end of the day your body just doesn’t want to work with you anymore. It was just like almost running in a sauna for the whole innings.
“But you’ve got to dig deep for your country as well, I’ve worked my whole life for it, so it’s a great moment.”
This was a timely win for South Africa after a stunning loss to the Netherlands, a non-Test nation, threatened to derail a World Cup campaign that had started with wins over Sri Lanka and Australia.
“The defeat to the Netherlands was a tough loss but one defeat does not make a bad team,” said Klaasen. “This was a fantastic performance.”
Klaasen, meanwhile hailed the performance of opener Reeza Hendricks, who made 85 following the late withdrawal of Proteas captain Temba Bavuma through illness, as an example of South Africa’s team spirit.
“Reeza got a late call, I think it was about 10 minutes before, five minutes before the coin toss that Temba is down.
“To perform like that, and the shots he played under pressure, shows where we are as a South African cricket group.”
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