Heinrich Klaasen made a spectacular return to the South African side on Sunday, June 12. He guided the Proteas to a 2-0 lead in the five-match T20I series against India at the Barabati Stadium.
Klaasen was not the first-choice keeper in the series opener in Delhi on June 9. However, an untimely injury to Quinton de Kock opened the doors for the Pretoria-born cricketer.
The 30-year-old revealed that he got to know about his inclusion in the playing XI one day prior to the game. Speaking at the post-match presentation ceremony, Heinrich Klaasen said:
"Quinny (de Kock) came up to me a few nights ago and told me that he injured himself. He's a strong character and I thought he'd come up well but yesterday morning he said he wasn't up to it."
Klaasen made the opportunity count with a career-best knock of 81 to give South Africa a healthy lead in the series. He smashed 81 off 46 balls, including seven boundaries and five sixes, to help the Proteas chase down 149 runs with 10 balls to spare.
The wicketkeeper-batter made batting look easy on a wicket that seemed to be double-paced. He said that wicket-keeping in the first innings helps to understand the wicket better.
Heinrich Klaasen added:
"It (Keeping) gives you an indication (about the surface) but it doesn't make it easier. It was moving around with the new ball."
He added 64 runs for the fourth wicket to steady the ship after they were reduced to 29/3 in 5.3 overs. He then added another 51 runs alongside David Miller to help South Africa ace the run chase.
"Hopefully this one does too" - Heinrich Klaasen hopes to revive his international career
The right-handed batter has time and again produced his best performances against India.
He unleashed a similar carnage against the Men in Blue back in 2018 in Centurion when he smacked 69 off 30 balls, taking Yuzvendra Chahal to the cleaners.
It was somewhat of a similar script in Cuttack as Klaasen hopes this knock will help him gain some attention in international cricket.
"I don't know but I'm glad it happened again against India. That (Centurion knock in 2018) put me on the map in international cricket and hopefully this one does too. I haven't performed well over the last couple of years in international cricket and I'm very honoured and happy to be here."
Klaasen also thanked the support staff for having his back despite underwhelming performances in the last few months.
"Some people have been gunning for my head but the support staff have been backing me all along. A special thanks to them."
Heinrich Klaasen will hope to continue the momentum going when South Africa lock horns against India in the third T20I in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday.