De Villiers to keep opening role

South Africa are expected to stick with AB de Villiers at the top of the order for the two Twenty20 internationals against England.

De Villiers, having opened the batting with Hashim Amla in their last sprint-format series versus India four months ago, is set to retain the role as the Proteas look to finalise their plans ahead of the ICC World Twenty20.

But De Villiers could have a new opening partner in the form of Quinton de Kock, who did not play in India but produced some stunning knocks during the one-day international series victory over England.

“AB has been batting up the top for the last three series, and I don’t see that changing,” skipper Faf du Plessis said.

“He’s an x-factor player, and it’s definitely something we see as a wild card for the World Cup.

“He’s one of those players who can take a game away every day, and it’s something we’re optimistic about at this World Cup.”

However, one man who will not feature in the next two matches is paceman Dale Steyn.

Although he is on the verge of returning to fitness following a shoulder injury, du Plessis confirmed they will give him more time to get back up to speed before the showpiece in India.

“Dale looks fit,” said du Plessis. “But we said we’d bring him into the mix for the games against Australia, just to give him some extra time to get back.”

South Africa face England and Australia before heading to the World T20, where they also play two warm-up matches.

Du Plessis says his side will use the seven matches as a chance to fine-tune their preparations.

“I see these games just about giving most of the guys game time,” he said.

“You can’t always guarantee everyone to play … it’s just about trying to get the guys ready and feeling good before that first match starts in the World Cup.

“It’s not always about the best thing for now, it’s about looking ahead.”

Source: ECB

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