South Africa vs England | 19 February 2016 | Newlands | 18:00
Following a barnstorming comeback in the One Day International series in which the Proteas overturned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 series win, we now turn out attention to the T20 segment of the tour.
Can South Africa carry their momentum into the T20’s or will Eoin Morgan’s men shake off the cobwebs and put in a big performance in the shortest format of the game? Let's take a look!
To Win Match
South Africa 7/10
Having clinched the One Day International segment of the tour in thrilling fashion, the Proteas will now look to put the final touches on their preparation for the World T20 set to be held in India later this year.
Chris Morris and David Wiese add a wonderful balance to a side that would otherwise have an extraordinarily long tail. Both all-rounders are more than capable of producing with the ball on their day, however, it is their ability to clear the boundary rope that has the South African public buzzing. Morris in particular, especially after his heroics in the fourth ODI against England in which he single-handedly dragged the South Africans over the line, will be keen to cement his place in the national limited over set-ups.
A lot has been made up the South African top order, and with good reason. Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers are the best top four in world T20 cricket at the moment. With Amla playing an anchoring role, the other three are afforded the freedom to take the attack to opposition bowlers. You then have the likes of David Miller, Farhaan Berhadien, Wiese and Morris to provide the fireworks toward the latter part of the innings.
In terms of the bowling attack, Kagiso Rabada and Kyle Abbott are among the most economical limited overs bowlers in the world at the moment. Their ability to hold down an end while Imran Tahir and Dale Steyn (when fit) provide the wicket-taking imputes at that will prove key as the Proteas look ahead to the two-match series with England.
All in all, this South African side has a wonderful balance to it. A strong top order is complemented by an explosive middle and lower. Factor in a bowling attack which is made up of arguably the world’s best T20 leg-spinner and one of the best seamers the world has ever seen, and you’ve got a side more than capable of putting the English to the sword.
Where to now for a beleaguered English side that will no doubt be smarting after they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the One Day International segment the tour? Trevor Bayliss and his charges will have to regroup and reapply themselves against an explosive South African side.
While there are a number of positives that the English can take from their 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Proteas – Alex Hales’ form with the bat and Reece Topley’s magnificent bowling – the form of captain, Eoin Morgan is definite cause for concern. He has come out this week saying that the English won’t deviate at all from their aggressive approach, however, the manner in which Morgan threw away his wicket in the ODI series perhaps calls for a more level-headed approach.
There will also be concern surrounding Jason Roy and Jos Buttler. So much was made of these two after positive starts in the ODI series, however, there is a definite lack of consistency that needs to be addressed moving forward. Roy averages just 13 in six T20 Internationals with a highest score of just 29. Buttler’s numbers are slightly better – an average of 20.81 in 34 innings is still not up to scratch.
Bayliss will be hoping that Hales and Joe Root carry their form from the ODIs into the T20s this weekend. The two were in incredible touch in the ODIs with Hales averaging 76.60 on his way to scoring 428 in five innings. Root wasn’t too far behind him, scoring 384 runs at an average of 70.20.
While much has been made of England’s destructive, albeit somewhat inconsistent batting line-up, their bowlers have quietly gone about stamping their mark on the limited overs segment of the tour. Topley in particular was sensational in the ODIs, bagging ten wickets in five games. Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali also played their part picking up five wickets apiece whilst maintaining economy rates of just under 5.50.
Finally, we can’t speak about this English side without touching on the ability of Ben Stokes. The fiery ginger all-rounder put in a solid enough shift in the ODIs without really reaching the highs of his performances in the Test series. He does seem to enjoy the shortest format of the game, and his performances could well decide the outcome of the first T20.
Verdict: South Africa 7/10
I really do the like the look of this South African T20 squad – I like it even more now that Imran Tahir is back to his brilliant best. A well balanced top order as well as a belligerent middle and lower order coupled with a dangerous bowling attack make South Africa the favourites here at 7/10. I’m going to play it safe and back the Proteas to claim victory at Newlands on Friday. For those looking for a bit more value, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we see a 100 being scored in this match – something of a rarity in T20 cricket. However, with so much destructive batting talent on display, it’s definitely worth a punt at 5/1.
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