South Africa skipper Temba Bavuma believes Heinrich Klaasen’s ton in the third ODI against West Indies stands out as the perfect example of the brand of cricket the Proteas want to play going forward, and revealed that the right-hander’s 119* felt like a ‘watershed moment’ for South Africa as a team, for that is exactly how they’d envisioned batting as a group.
South Africa entered the third ODI 0-1 down, and were staring down the barrel at 87/4, chasing 261, but a stunning 54-ball ton from Klaasen helped them not only chase down the target, but do it in record time as they became the first ever side in ODI history to chase a 250+ target in under 30 overs.
Bavuma, who himself struck a sizzling ton in the second ODI, was full of praise for Klaasen’s knock and approach and attested that the swashbuckling century serves as the blueprint for the Proteas, going forward in 50-over cricket.
"Klaasen batted beautifully and the way he went about his business speaks to how we want to play our cricket," Bavuma said of Klaasen's ton.
"Watching on the sidelines, it felt like a watershed moment for us as a team because we've been talking about how we want to play.
"The manner in which he batted breathed life in terms of what we've been talking about."
But Bavuma feels it's imperative that his side builds on this performance and starts replicating the same going forward - that too across conditions.
"In this game, Klaasen showed what we want to do on a consistent basis, but it's important that we grow through such games and the other games that'll come our way," Bavuma said.
"We need to be able to play like this in other conditions."
The emphatic chase in the third ODI against West Indies was, in fact, the second time in four ODIs the Proteas had taken down a bowling attack through a gung-ho approach, having chased down 343 in 49.1 overs against England. Bavuma understands there's a 'learning process' ahead but believes his side are on the right track.
He also hoped for the team's recent showings to play a part in building 'trust and belief' among fans.
"We've taken a few steps towards what perfect would look like for us.
"We've shown in the last two games against the West Indies and the three games against England that we have confidence in refining our brand.
"We know there's still a learning process that we still need to go through because we're going to come up against different opposition in different conditions which we'll have to adapt to."
The three-match series against West Indies, however, was not a part of the ODI Super League. The Proteas, as things stand, have still not sealed automatic qualification for the 50-over World Cup and will have to win both the ODIs against Netherlands, which will be played on March 31 and April 2 respectively, to give themselves the best chance of doing so.