South Africa vs England: Fourth ODI Preview

Written by Jason Dewey for @HollywoodbetsFollow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

South Africa vs England | Friday 12 February | The Wanderers | 13:30

Having clawed their way back into the series following a convincing seven-wicket win against the English on Tuesday, the Proteas will head into the fourth One Day International confident of leveling the five-match series.

We're set for an absolute humdinger at the Wanderers this Friday with both sets of batsmen looking in good touch on a wicket that traditionally yields a lot of runs.

To Win Match
South Africa 7/10
Draw 35/1
England 11/10

South Africa
Quinton de Kock is quickly establishing himself as one of the best limited overs batsmen on the planet. His masterful 117-ball 135 against the English last time out underlined just why he’s being touted for superstardom.

He was at his brilliant best again on Tuesday evening as he made light work of England’s bowling attack in near-perfect batting conditions. He twice caressed the ball through the covers to the boundary off David Willey’s first over. He would go on to reserve the same treatment for Reece Topley in the next over as he found the deep cover boundary again before punching the ball straight past the left-arm seamer to find the rope, straight on the on side.

Following beautifully timed drives off the front foot, the English seamers dropped the ball short in a bid to stem the torrent of boundaries. Anyone who’s ever bowled to de Kock, however, knows all about his ability to score of the leg side square of the wicket. He pulled anything short with ruthless consequence and was quick to punish anything overpitched.

With all of de Kock’s exertion, it’s easy to forget about the absolute gem of an innings by Hashim Amla. As always, he manipulated the crease in order to disturb the line of the bowlers. He whipped a number of balls on his off stump through midwicket. When the bowlers eventually bowled wider of off stump to counter this, he would free his arms and crash the ball through the covers.

The platform that the two openers laid meant that they middle order would always canter along to victory.

While the show was undoubtedly stolen by the two South African opening batsmen, the groundwork for the victory was laid in the field. Kagiso Rabada and Kyle Abbott gave very little away as they made scoring difficult for all of the English batsmen bar Joe Root and Ben Stokes. Morne Morkel toiled hard and David Wiese showed why it is so important to have a fourth specialist seamer in the 50-over format of the game.

Looking ahead to the fourth ODI, I don’t think that there will be any changes to the side. While Imran Tahir has underperformed so far in the series, I don’t think that the South African management will want to go into the final two matches of the series without a specialist spinner. Although Tahir has been uncharacteristically poor, on his day, he can be absolutely lethal with ball in hand.

Trevor Bayliss and his English side will look back at the third One Day International knowing that they probably should have walked away for the victory. A fantastic platform had been laid by Alex Hales and Joe Root following the early run out of Jason Roy.

Root was in sublime form as he played an unusually aggressive innings on his way to a magnificent 113-ball 135 – his highest ever ODI score. He was particularly effective straight of the wicket on the leg side where he plundered 38 of his 135 runs. Although he seemed to struggle to find the boundary in the early part of his innings, he managed to rotate the strike with Hales before he really got into his groove. Once he settled, however, he pierced the South African field at will, finding the boundary at regular intervals.

With Root and Hales at the crease, England looked set to make a massive 350+ total, however, Hales’ dismissal in the 26th over brought about a miniature collapse. Jos Buttler was sent back the pavilion without scoring before Eoin Morgan played a schoolboy innings, swinging wildly, but never really connecting. He would chip a David Wiese delivery to Amla at extra cover for a 24-ball eight.

Ben Stokes joined Root at the crease with the score at 184-6 after 37 overs. At that point the English would still have been confident of a 350+ total, however, confusion in the middle would lead to Root being run out. Stokes picked dup where he left off though, blitzing his way to a 37-ball 58 before he was caught by Berhadien off the bowling of Abbott. The English would eventually finish on 318-8 following some late fireworks Adil Rashid and David Willey.

The English bowlers did themselves no favours as they conceded far too many runs in defence of their total. Amla and de Kock manipulated the crease beautifully to disturb the English seamers’ lines and lengths, finding the boundary with some supreme stroke play.

Had it not been for the exploits of Adil Rashid who bowled beautifully well, the Proteas could well have chased down the English total with a few more overs to spare. His figures of 45-1 after 10 overs stood out in an otherwise dire bowling performance.

The only player I can see the axe falling on following the first three One Day Internationals is Chris Jordan. For all of his endeavour, he simply hasn’t been good enough. While his lines have been okay, he’s simply not been able to consistently find the right length. He may well be replaced by Stuart Broad who is still with the squad after the Test series. He will no doubt feel fresh after an extended break following the final Test at Centurion.

The Venue: The Wanderers
The Bullring has been a happy hunting ground for the Proteas of late, winning the last three One Day Internationals played at the venue. Traditionally a quick wicket that allows the ball to come onto the bat nicely resulting in some massive totals.

The Proteas have batted first in their last three ODIs here notching up massive scores in the process including that famous 439-2 against the West Indies. To give you an idea of how good the venue is for batting, the last three ODIs here have yielded 1957 runs – that’s an average of 326 runs an innings.

Verdict: South Africa at 7/10
Looking at the teams on paper, I’d still say England look slightly stronger – especially taking current form into consideration. That being said, the Proteas do tend to turn it on at the Bullring. I’m backing the home side to come out trumps in front of a packed Wanderers on Friday – you should too!

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