Lucknow, Oct 7 (IANS) South Africa left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj believes that the unbeaten partnership of 139 between David Miller and Heinrich Klassen for the fifth wicket was the difference between the visitors and India in the ODI series opener at Lucknow.
Pushed into batting first, South Africa were in trouble at 110/4 in 22.2 overs and were staring at a low total when Miller (75 not out off 63 balls) and Klassen (74 not out off 65 balls) shared a rollicking stand of 139 runs off 106 balls to take South Africa on a competitive 249/4 on a pitch which had something for both pacers and spinners.
Though Sanju Samson made an unbeaten 86, Shreyas Iyer hit a quick counter-attacking fifty and Shardul Thakur played a late cameo of 33, India fell short of the target by nine runs.
“I thought Heinrich (Klaasen) came in and absorbed (the pressure) really well and David (Miller) was hitting the ball stupendously and just exploded in the back end and I think that was the difference between us and the Indian side, getting that partnership towards the end.”
“We are just making sure that we are doing the right things and hopefully put in more performances going forward building towards the World Cup,” said Maharaj after the match ended.
Maharaj played a huge part in keeping India to 240/8 in a truncated 40-overs a side match, picking figures of 1/23 in his eight overs as he made use of the prodigious turn offered by the pitch at Lucknow.
“I was trying to stick to my line and lengths to make it difficult for the batters in terms of not being able to get away. But I still think Shammo (Tabraiz Shamsi) bowled exceptionally well to hold his nerve in the end and take us over the line. It spun excessively. After good batting wickets in the T20s, it was nice to play on a spinning track.”
Though Shamsi had a day to forget by leaking 89 runs in his eight overs, Maharaj said it was important on his part to give the left-arm wrist-spinner positive vibes. “We (About chatting to Shamsi from mid-wicket) got our own plans and things, obviously trying to give good energy towards Shammo and just a few thoughts and processes that sometimes do contradict, and sometimes do work in our favour.”
Maharaj signed off by praising captain Temba Bavuma for his leadership in the narrow victory. “He (Bavuma) has done a splendid job (as a skipper) and I was just trying to pass on some information, just need some reassurance sometimes and get the backing from everyone towards certain things.”