The preparation for the T20 World Cup begins in earnest for both South Africa and England at Buffalo Park.
After a shared ODI series, both sides are full of players eager to make a statement in a bid to establish themselves in international cricket.
Photo Copyright – Steve Haag Sports
First T20I | Wednesday 12 February 2020 | Buffalo Park, East London | 18:00
South Africa 13/10
T20I cricket returns to the Buffalo City for the start of a series with great importance for the hosts. While there is much work to do in all three formats of the game, the looming World Cup adds urgency to the shortest format.
After a solid ODI series, Themba Bavuma has a shot at establishing himself as a presence in T20 cricket. Bavuma is perceived as a Test specialist but has shown that he can be an asset in white-ball cricket as well.
The left-field selection of 33-year-old uncapped batsman, Pite van Biljon, shows the continued willingness of the current team management to reward franchise performers.
Kagiso Rabada and Faf du Plessis continue to be rested, providing opportunities for quick bowlers and batsmen to stand up and prove themselves.
Jon-Jon Smuts is one player who needs to perform to prove that he has what it takes in international cricket.
The tourists have backed young quicks Pat Brown and Saqib Mahmood after the pair impressed in New Zealand while Jofra Archer misses out through injury.
Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler return after being rested for the T20I series, and they will be dangermen for the tourists who have an interesting blend of youth and experience.
England have had great success in ODI cricket, but it hasn’t translated to consistent performances in the shortest format of the international game.
Mark Wood provides England with express pace while the rest of the attack will rely more on guile.
The match will be just the third T20I at Buffalo Park although England have previously played ODIs at the East London venue.
Verdict: South Africa 13/10
Buffalo Park can be a tricky venue to play, and local knowledge could be key.