While Proteas captain Heinrich Klaasen said he did not really know what his team could have done differently to stop the incredible Babar Azam onslaught that led to a crushing nine-wicket defeat at the hands of Pakistan in the third T20 International at Centurion on Wednesday evening, the skipper is not just sitting back and accepting the hiding that was dished out.
“I’ll be going back tonight and doing a lot of homework to see how we can improve and make sure we win the last game on Friday,” Klaasen said after Babar had slammed 122 off just 59 balls, allowing Pakistan to romp to their stiff target of 204 with two overs to spare. Perpetual nemesis Mohammad Rizwan scored 73 not out in an opening stand of 197.
“It was a very good pitch and watching that batting from behind the stumps was quite something to be honest,” Klaasen said after the chastening loss.
“We tried a few things, but you don’t want to be trying too many different things on a good pitch like that. They made a lot of good, well-executed balls look bad with great placement. They batted brilliantly and we did not have enough answers.
“Babar is a special player and when he comes off, it’s very difficult to defend. You always feel maybe you could do something different, but what, I don’t know. Maybe we’ll reflect on some execution. But I reckon we were 10 runs short, both openers made more than 50 but we were again guilty of not having a set batsman at the back end. And we were very poor in the field, that was especially bad.”
Even though South Africa’s bowling – not well supported by lacklustre fielding – looked utterly toothless, Klaasen did not seem that keen on any major changes for the final T20 on Friday at the same venue, which the Proteas have to win to level the series.
“We’re going to be up for it and we have to bounce back and nail our skills,” Klaasen said. “I don’t feel like we need a big change in personnel, we need some consistency in fact. The question is how do you take wickets on a surface like this where there is no turn, the slower balls skid on and the ball travels miles on the Highveld?
“I reckon the way to take wickets is to defend, we need to build pressure by executing our balls. The bowlers need to work harder to do that. We tried to go to death bowing a lot earlier this evening but that didn’t come off. And we strive to be better in the field, we’ve been brilliant in training but I think the guys are trying too hard, they’re not calm enough,” Klaasen said.