ENG v SA, 1st T20 Preview: South Africa look to put behind CT disappointment

ENG v SA, 1st T20 Preview: South Africa look to put behind CT disappointment

Both South Africa and England have gone in with new faces for this T20 series but the leadership remains with experienced men.

Imran Tahir and AB de Villiers of South Africa
Imran Tahir and AB de Villiers of South Africa celebrate victory. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

After crashing out of the Champions Trophy in the first round, South Africa will continue their tour of England. They have already played a 3-match ODI series which hosts England won by a 2-1 margin. They will be playing a 3-match T20 series followed by a 4-match Test series which will conclude in the first week of August.

AB De Villiers has put his hand up to take the South Africa team forward post the humiliating loss against India. The star batsman is ready to lead the team into another ICC event. This T20 series will be another opportunity for De Villiers to showcase his leadership skills and get some runs in the process. He will be leading the side in the absence of regular skipper Faf du Plessis, who will fly back home to be with his partner for the birth of their first child. South Africa have a lot of new faces in the squad as regulars de Kock, du Plessis and Hashim Amla are being rested for this series to keep them fresh and fit for the Test series.

England did reasonably well in the Champions Trophy but succumbed to their first loss in the tournament against Pakistan which ended their campaign. They named 5 uncapped players for this series giving rest to a few regular players in order to manage their workload. Morgan will lead the side and will face the challenge of getting the best of this fairly inexperienced team.

Focus will be on:

Jason Roy

After having a disastrous time in the Champions Trophy, all focus will be Roy when he walks out to bat during this series. In his last 9 ODI appearances, Roy has managed to score just 68 with 20 being his highest. England backed him right through this patch but lost patience with him in the semifinals where they picked Jonny Bairstow in place of the 26-year old to open the innings against Pakistan. After being axed from the XI, Roy went back to play for Surrey and scored a brisk 92 in a 50-over game. England haven’t entirely given up on Roy as they think that he is a part of England’s new era. Roy will have to prove his mettle again in international cricket and this is the perfect platform for the Surrey lad.

Chris Morris

The tall all-rounder has been in terrific form in the IPL, where he plays for Delhi Daredevils. Morris has recently shown his credentials with the bat which has surprised many including former captain Graeme Smith. Morris did not have the best of times in the Champions Trophy but was economical with the ball. He was pushed at No. 7 to add balance to the squad, though he could only get 52 runs in 3 innings. Morris has a strike rate of 153.65 in 133 games in overall T20s. He will have to replicate the form that he has shown in domestic T20s in international cricket as well. The 30-year old has worked a lot on his death bowling skills and bowls the yorkers at will. He is equally effective when the ball is newer. All in all, Morris has the ability to become one of the leading all-rounders in world cricket.

Team Combinations

England

Alex Hales will open the innings alongside Jason Roy. Joe Root hasn’t been selected for this series hence Billings might get a chance at No. 3. Morgan will take the No. 4 spot. Bairstow will be included and is expected to bat at 5 followed by the big-hitting Jos Buttler. One of Liam Livingstone and David Malan, both of whom have impressed in domestic cricket and appearances in the England Lions side, might get a look in at No.7. Mason Crane is expected to be handed an international debut. He will be the lone spinner in the England ranks. The fast bowling department will be looked after by Liam Plunkett, David Wiley and Mark Wood – who will only be available for the first T20 only.

South Africa

JJ Smuts and Reeza Hendricks are expected to open the innings. De Villiers likes batting at No. 3 in the T20 format and will come into bat at one drop. David Miller will occupy the No. 4 spot. Farhaan Behardien, who led the Proteas in the 3-match home T20 series against Sri Lankan in January, will play a crucial role batting at No. 5. In the absence of de Kock, Mangaliso Mosehle will take the big gloves and bat at No. 6. Chris Morris will play a pivotal role at No. 7 and add balance to the South African team. Wayne Parnell should open the bowling and will bat at No. 8 as he can be handy late down the order. All-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo is also expected to be a part of the XI along with Imran Tahir, who is the world’s No. 1 T20 bowler. South Africa will be pondering over the selection of Dane Paterson or Tabriz Shamsi.

Predicted XI

England: Alex Hales, Jason Roy, Sam Billings, Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Liam Livingstone/David Malan, Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood, David Wiley and Mason Crane.

South Africa: JJ Smuts, Reeza Hendricks, AB De Villiers, David Miller, Farhaan Behardien, Mangaliso Mosehle, Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, Wayne Parnell, Imran Tahir, Tabriz Shamsi/Dane Paterson

Stat Attack:

52- runs required by Eoin Morgan to go past Mohammad Hafeez’s tally of 1619 and break into the top ten list of the highest run-getters in T20 internationals.

43- runs required by AB De Villiers to complete 1500 T20 international runs. He will be the 13th players to do so

57- runs required by Jos Butler to complete 1,000 T20 runs. He will be the fourth Englishmen to do that.