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2023 In Review

Wisden’s Men’s ODI innings of 2023, No.3: Heinrich Klaasen’s 174

Heinrich Klaasen celebrates his century during his knock which sits No.3 on Wisden's ODI innings of 2023
Abhishek Mukherjee by Abhishek Mukherjee
@ovshake42 5 minute read

No.3 in Wisden’s men’s ODI innings of 2023 is Heinrich Klaasen’s monstrous 174 that pulverised Australia at Centurion to help South Africa level the series. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back at a clinically violent onslaught.

Wisden’s men’s ODI innings of 2023, No.3: Heinrich Klaasen – 174 (83)

South Africa vs Australia
Fourth ODI
SuperSport Park, Centurion, September 15

The TL;DR version: Heinrich Klaasen blasted 174 in 83 balls. Of all batters to have arrived at the crease after 25 overs into an ODI innings, no one has amassed as many runs.

No one else has made a total that big while scoring at two runs a ball either: Klaasen struck at 209.


South Africa were 120-2 after 25 overs. We have seen teams approach ODIs like that even after powerplay hitting became a thing in the 1990s. Go at under five, keep wickets in hand, save the onslaught for the last. The old-school method.

Aiden Markram fell the next ball. Klaasen arrived. To cut things short, South Africa added another 296 – we are talking a run rate of 11.92 across a duration longer than a Twenty20 innings – of which Klaasen made 174, in 83 balls, with 13 fours and 13 sixes.

The last ten overs yielded 173. For perspective, no team has come within thirty runs of that at even at the Abu Dhabi T10, where they have all ten wickets in hand. Some of these came from David Miller, who played a part in that 222-run fifth wicket partnership, scored at a ridiculous 14.47 an over. It is the fastest ODI stand in excess of 150.

Yet, there was no indication of what was on the cards in the early parts of the innings. True, Klaasen picked up two boundaries in the first 11 balls he faced, but none in the next 15.

In an earlier phase of his career, Klaasen would have launched the onslaught by this point. It was not until he was dropped from the side, in 2021, that he decided to fine-tune his approach.

“You are using too many options. Let’s limit yourself,” the coaches advised him back then.

The pupil obeyed: “I am batting within myself at the start to make sure I get a good platform and then I can just react to every ball: stand still, watch the ball and wherever I need to hit it, my body will take over and just react.”

Klaasen took his time. Neither of his next two boundaries – a leg-glance and an edge – was off an aggressive shot. Then he decided to switch gears.

Adam Zampa’s leg-break sailed over long-off. Josh Hazlewood was duly dispatched for two fours, one of them an outrageous back-foot thwack to the left of mid-on, up inside the circle. A six over mid-wicket got him to his fifty, off 38 balls.

It was at this point that Klaasen went from aggressive to absurd. As the innings progressed, the shots became ridiculous. Michael Neser, born not too far away from he venue, bowled one on the stumps. It was not too short, mind you, but Klaasen intercepted the line and lofted it over the bowler, off the back foot, all bottom hand. It bounced a couple of times before rolling past the ropes.

The hundred, off 57 balls, arrived somewhere during the Marcus Stoinis over where he hit three sixes. On came Zampa, and Klaasen went down on one knee. The crowd craned to follow the trajectory. The ball soared into the third tier.

The most astonishing shot came in the 47th over. You cannot blame Hazlewood for bowling a yorker outside the off stump at the death. The problem was, not only had Klaasen managed to get his bat under the ball but he had also given it every ounce of what that bottom hand had to offer.

It was not the shot of an ordinary cricketer.

The rest of the innings passed in a flurry of sixes, including a phase of five in eight balls, sending the fans into raptures as they celebrated the local hero, forcing the hapless camera crew to switch their focus towards the sky.

Off the last 26 balls he faced – and that included the one that claimed his wicket – Klaasen made 74. He ran for only eight of these. Australia wilted away against a target of 417.


Batters of the future will hit outrageous strokes, and score at an even quicker rate in shorter formats. Klaasen himself may do it a few times. But when cricket looks back at his Centurion classic years later, it should be be remembered how the 83-ball 174 concealed a 26-ball 25.

It was the quintessential well-paced ODI innings, with the second half at twice the playback speed.

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