Babar Azam was just too good, says Proteas captain
Klaasen believes his players ‘will be up for it’ in making sure they draw the series
Stand-in Proteas captain Heinrich Klaasen ruefully admitted that it was difficult to counter the class of Babar Azam in their thumping nine-wicket loss to Pakistan in the third T20I on Wednesday in Centurion.
Azam scored a sensational 122 off 59 balls that included 15 boundaries and four maximums and was part of a sizzling match-winning opening stand of 197 off 107 balls with Mohammad Rizwan.
“It was something watching from behind the stumps, to be honest‚” Klaasen said, adding that SA did all they could to stop the explosive Azam and Rizwan but to no avail.
“We tried a lot of things. We tried to go death at them early because they were hitting the ball nicely, but they made a lot of good balls that were well-executed look bad by very good placement and some stroke play.
“So it was difficult from a captaincy point of view to try a lot of things because you don’t want to try a lot of things on a wicket like this which has produced some very big scores in T20 cricket. It was tough, but I will go back, do my homework and see where we can improve.
“You always feel you can do something different. But when a guy like Babar is batting brilliantly, I don’t know what it is you can do. We have set plans and sometimes you have to go with your gut feel, but once again he batted brilliantly. But we could have done a few things differently.”
Klaasen conceded that the Proteas were a margin short in their batting and felt their fielding was also not up to the required high standards they have set themselves.
“I reckon we were about 10 runs short. It was a very good wicket‚” he said. “We had both openers going past 50 runs but we are guilty that none of the guys over the last three games has scored runs in the back end like the Pakistani batters.
“We were very poor in the field as well. We strive not to be bad on the field. I think the guys are trying too hard and it is something that we will have to correct. But it has been a trend.”
The Proteas must win the last match to avoid a series defeat and Klaasen said they need to put runs on the board to level the series at 2-2.
They would “look at a couple of things” and the captain was confident “the boys will be up for it. We really want to make sure that we draw the series.”
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