England World T20 preview: South Africa

“That’s the beauty of tournament cricket – you have a game in two days’ time so you don’t get too caught up in what’s just happened.” 

That’s Jos Buttler on England’s opportunity for rapid redemption as they gather hearts and heads for the “must-win” clash against familiar foes South Africa tomorrow.

Ben Stokes looks aghast as Chris Gayle complies a match-winning century from 47 balls

Eoin Morgan’s side were blown away by Chris Gayle’s outstanding stand-and-deliver batting in the World T20 group one opener yesterday as he became the first man in history to make two T20i centuries and hit 11 maximums in a single innings.

The West Indies giant of 20-over cricket is difficult to control in that mood but the bowling unit will want to be more accurate in how they approach another superstar batting line-up. The Proteas won five limited-overs games in a row at the end of England’s 2016 tour with AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis showing the ingenuity and authority to hunt down totals.

England performed well to post a competitive 182 with the bat on Wednesday – the seventh time they have passed 170 in 10 matches – but the decent contributions of Joe Root (48 from 36 balls), Jos Buttler (30 from 20), Morgan (27 from 14) and Ben Stokes (15 from 7) were not in the Gayle-force territory.

At least two of that clean-striking quartet, along with openers Jason Roy and Alex Hales, need to fire at the top of the order to give England a chance. How they play the wicket-taking threat of tricky leg-spinner Imran Tahir and precocious speedster Kagiso Rabada will go a long way to determining the outcome.

Only captain Morgan has significant experience of the nuances of Indian conditions – it was damp enough in Mumbai for a Super Sopper to emerge at the halfway point of the Windies’ run-chase – the team should be better equipped for the challenge of South Africa under lights.

With group games against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka to follow, now is the time to deliver the fearless, attacking, high-octane cricket England’s young team is founded on and prevail in a do-or-die World Cup contest.

When? Friday 18 March
Where? Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
Start? 14:00 (GMT)

How to keep up with the action?

Live on Sky Sports from 13:00
Live on BBC Test Match Special from 13:30
Live updates on @EnglandCricket on Twitter and England Cricket Facebook
Daily reports, interviews and features on ECB.co.uk

The squads

Eoin Morgan (Middlesex, capt), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Sam Billings (Kent), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Liam Dawson (Hampshire), Steven Finn (Middlesex), Alex Hales (Nottinghamshire), Chris Jordan (Sussex), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Jason Roy (Surrey), Ben Stokes (Durham), Reece Topley (Hampshire), James Vince (Hampshire), David Willey (Yorkshire)

South Africa's Quinton de Kock, who was in blistering form against England last month

South Africa
Faf du Plessis (capt), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Chris Morris, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, David Wiese.

Big game for…

Adil Rashid
“Spin is king in India and the Yorkshire wrist-spinner’s ability to turn the ball both ways will be England’s most lethal weapon.” That is former England spinner Graeme Swann – 51 T20i wickets and a World Cup winners medal from 2010 – fulsome in his praise for Adil Rashid and his potential impact on the tournament. In-form and brilliant in the 2016 Big Bash, the 28 year-old can be England’s wicket-taking match-winner but he struggled to grip the ball in dewy conditions against the Windies and suffered, like everyone else, some brutal Gayle punishment. Rashid got AD de Villiers last time against South Africa and will be intent bouncing back with his prized scalp and others at the Wankhede Stadium.

AB de Villiers
Golden boy AB de Villiers showed all his class with a thunderous 71 from 29 balls – the fastest T20i half century for South Africa – on the final game of England’s recent tour. Innovative and powerful, the 32 year-old IPL star is proficient in the subcontinent but has a somewhat surprisingly modest average of 22.87 in the 20-over format for his country. Targeting this tournament as the perfect place to put that right, expect fireworks as the Test and ODI captain goes in search of a first T20i century.

South Africa openers AD de Villiers (R) and Hashim Amla inspect a bat during training

Quotes from the captains

Jos Buttler (vice-captain): “That [Gayle knock] is what we didn’t have in our innings, someone going on and making a telling contribution to put them under pressure.

“We just have to park that [West Indies] game, we know it’s gone now. To advance in this tournament we need to focus all our energy on the next game.

“Yes the outcome could potentially be more defining on the tournament but we’ve got the characters in that dressing room that enjoy that occasion and will stand up to it so we will look to take the game on tomorrow.”

Faf du Plessis: “If we put England under pressure we’re hoping they’ll almost fall back on that mentality of losing games and not being confident.

“They’ll obviously be under pressure. As a team you definitely feel the heat in that moment. It’s such a short tournament you have to hit the ground running.”

Previous meetings

21 February 2016 in Johannesburg: South Africa won by nine wickets
19 February 2016 in Cape Town: South Africa won by three wickets
29 March 2014 in Chittagong: South Africa won by three runs
12 September 2012 in Birmingham: England won by 28 runs
10 September 2012 in Manchester: no result

England's Jos Buttler plays an innovative shot en route to 30 from 20 balls against the West Indies

Did you know?

South Africa have won seven of 11 T20 internationals against England.

England have made 170 plus in seven of their last ten T20 internationals.

Eoin Morgan is England’s most capped T20i player with 57 appearances. He overhauled Stuart Broad (56) in the opening game against West Indies.

After 28 runs against the West Indies, Alex Hales is now second on the all-time list of England’s T20i run scorers on 1182.

South Africa are ranked fourth in the ICC World T20 rankings. England are seventh.

Source: ECB

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