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England v South Africa, 3rd T20I, Preview: Balanced sides lock horns for series glory

The series stands leveled at 1-1.

South Africa
South Africa celebrate at the end of the second NatWest T20 Blast match. (Photo by Paul Harding/PA Images via Getty Images)

After two contrasting games of T20 cricket, the stage is set for the decider of the three match T20 series between England and South Africa. The first games indeed saw contrasting fortunes for the two sides. In the first game, fifties from AB de Villiers and Farhaan Behardien were not enough to see the Proteas cross the 150-run mark. The sluggish nature of their play was widely criticized.

In the run chase, Alex Hales and Jonny Bairstow made a mockery of the Proteas bowling by chasing down the total in under 15 overs. In the second game, slightly better performance from South Africa saw them post 174 on the board. However, with Jason Roy hitting shots at will and Bairstow continuing his good run, the match looked in the favor of the hosts.

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A bit of luck, some horror running by Roy, and tight bowling at the death, saw the Proteas eke out a narrow 3 run win. Now, Cardiff is all set to see the decider being played. The conditions would be slightly different than the previous two games. Expect spin to play a bigger role in this game. The two teams would want to put their best foot forward going into the game.

Toss: South Africa won the toss & elected to field first

Playing XI

South Africa: JJ Smuts, Reeza Hendricks, Mangaliso Mosehle(w), AB de Villiers(c), David Miller, Farhaan Behardien, Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, Morne Morkel, Dane Paterson, Tabraiz Shamsi

England: Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Dawid Malan, Jos Buttler(w/c), Sam Billings, Liam Livingstone, Liam Plunkett, David Willey, Chris Jordan, Tom Curran, Mason Crane

Focus will be on

JJ Smuts

South African opener JJ Smuts was dismissed for a king’s duck in the first game. However, he did come back strong in the second game and got a good start. But, the veteran domestic star failed to make it count with a big one. He is an attacking batsman by nature and is somewhat similar in his approach to the opposition opener Jason Roy. The South African team will hope that Smuts fires in the final game.

Team Combinations

England

English skipper Eoin Morgan had made it clear ahead of the series that all the uncapped players will get a chance in the series. He lived up to the promise as the first two games have seen a few new faces. The only two uncapped players who are yet to play in the series are Dawid Malan and Craig Overton. Expect the two players to be drafted in the lineup.

Dawid Malan would be the likely replacement for in-form Jonny Bairstow who has already left the squad for his County duties. Meanwhile, pacer Chris Jordan could make way for Overton after a poor show in the second T20I. Also, Alex Hales, who was rested in the previous game, could make a comeback in the final game. Sam Billings, who had a poor outing in the previous match, could be the one left out of the lineup.

South Africa

South Africa will try not to tinker with their winnning combinations. One obvious change that they could think of bringing is replacing Tabraiz Shamsi with veteran leggie Imran Tahir. Tahir is the number 1 ranked bowler in T20Is and that should serve his case to be playing the final T20I of the series. Apart from this change, the rest of the lineup looks very settled for the Proteas.

Stat Attack

3 – England have won their last 3 T20Is played at Cardiff.

5 – Number of uncapped players in the English squad ahead of the series. Now, only two players remain to make their debuts.

8 – Number of batsmen to have been given out obstructing the field in the history of the ODI cricket.

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