South Africa v England: 3rd T20I, Preview: All eyes on another potential thriller with series on the line

South Africa v England: 3rd T20I, Preview: All eyes on another potential thriller with series on the line

The Three Lions may not want to shake up a winning combination but may be tempted with the prospect of Dawid Malan in place of Joe Denly.

Quinton de Kock
Quinton de Kock. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

It’s only been a handful of days, but the South Africa-England tussle has revived a few credentials of the shortest version of the game that isn’t seen in any other format, having provided not one but now two cliffhangers ahead of what promises to be a frantic finale.

Lungi Ngidi’s otherworldly last over in the inaugural T20I proved to be a stumbling block in a gradually retarding English collapse, but then, there would be a certain Tom Curran to step up in the next fixture and settle the debts with another well-effectuated last over.

Both the outings in the series have been nail-biting, to say the least, proving why some of the great things in cricket happen in this fast-paced format. The series decider is set to take place on February 16, at the SuperSport Park in Centurion.

The hosts know they have it in their locker, but that cutting edge from their bowlers in the middle overs has been visibly lacking. Jon-Jon Smuts’ 22-run over in the opening T20I for instance, alongside slant bowling efforts from Andile Phehlukwayo and Beuran Hendricks in both games, have offered lifelines to a dangerous English line-up more often than not. As batting first holds the key in this series where either side have bottled chases, South Africa have done reasonably well with their top order as well as with shuffling of their deep-rooted batting sequence.

England seem to be in similar hit-and-miss patch of form, and there’s very little to separate these two sides heading into the last match. Perhaps, they just have that extra firepower with the bat, containing within them as many as seven batsmen capable of playing a ballistic knock on their day.

Team Combination

South Africa

While most of the batting order is set to function the way it’s been, the Proteas could tinker their pace battery. The return of Dale Steyn – now SA’s leading wicket-taker in the T20Is – could bolster their options in place of under-fire Beuran Hendricks.

David Miller is set to be resent to his preferred middle-order role, with Rassie van der Dussen returning to arguably the most important position at No.3. Even then, with none of the hitting the peak of their powers, the onus lies on the reliable duo of Temba Bavuma and skipper Quinton de Kock.

Probable XI

Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (C & WK), Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, JJ Smuts, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Dale Steyn, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi, Bjorn Fortuin

Bench – Sisanda MagalaPetrus van Biljon, Beuran Hendricks, Reeza Hendricks

England 

As far as the balance is concerned, the English side looks well-stacked. Jason Roy and Jos Buttler will be tasked with firing the team into an explosive start, with another pinch-hitter in Bairstow to follow. The extra cushion provided by Ben Stokes and match-winner Moeen Ali is a gift to any XI in the game.

The Three Lions may not want to shake up a winning combination but may be tempted with the prospect of Dawid Malan in place of Joe Denly. In an afternoon game with the pitch drier than normal, the spin of Adil Rashid holds key to England’s fortunes, while regular change-ups offered by the likes of Chris Jordan and Tom Curran may come in handy.

Probable XI: Jos Buttler (WK), Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan (C), Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Tom Curran, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood

Bench: Saqib Mahmood, Matthew Parkinson, Joe Denly, Sam Curran

Focus will be on

Quinton de Kock (South Africa)

As aforementioned, De Kock happens to be the X-Factor in a side infused with overall inexperience in the middle order. He possesses sheer match-winning abilities, capable of clawing the game away from the opposition in no time, as epitomised by his 17-ball fifty yesterday – a display of the truest form of clean batsmanship.

The swashbuckling batter is dangerous in the power play, and with the calm presence of Bavuma alongside him, it only works as a complimentary license to his natural game. England will have to stop him as early as they can, probably by throwing Rashid’s leggies at him early on. If de Kock gets into his groove with a few boundaries, it may well be game over for the world champions.

Jos Buttler (England) 

Two substandard outings in the series means Jos Buttler will be itching to get some runs under his belt. And often, the glove-worker opts for the bullish rescue whenever he is in a dry spell, leaving South Africa with no option but to peg themselves back.

He has lost his wicket to fast bowlers (Steyn and Ngidi), being guilty of playing a lazy drive away from his frame. But, Buttler’s strengths lie against the pacers, on pitches where the ball sticks on to the track. He is surely one to watch out for, as one can simply not keep him out of the game for too long.

Head-to-head

Played – 17 | Won by South Africa – 9 | Won by England – 7 | No result – 1

Stat attack

92 – After recording their first-ever below 50 partnership in the previous T20I, Temba Bavuma and Quinton de Kock paired up once again to put 92 runs for the opening wicket – their best in the shortest format. The 48-run stand in the first T20I also happened to be their only under 50-run partnership in LOIs.

Broadcast Details

TV – Sony Six, Sony Six HD

Live streaming – Sony LIV

Match Timings – 12:30 PM (local), 6:00 PM (IST)