The ODI series between England and South Africa continues on Friday and after the intense heat of the opening game the two teams will no doubt be delighted that it will be slightly cooler in Manchester for the second match of the three.
South Africa drew first blood in the heat of Durham on Tuesday which means they can win the series with another victory here. England will be looking to take the series to a decider on Sunday and need to come out on top here for that to happen.
If you are being honest you’d have to say there wasn’t much that England did right in the opening game. In isolation that probably wouldn’t be a concern because the conditions were alien to England but if they are being truthful to themselves then they are yet to play well in a competitive white ball game in England this summer apart from an ODI at Lord’s where India capitulated with the bat. That is very much a concern not least because it coincides with the change in captain from Eoin Morgan to Jos Buttler.
One of the reasons for the struggles England are having is that groundsmen haven’t been able to produce true roads which they play their best cricket on given the incredibly dry conditions the country has had over the last month. It is clear that England have no intention of changing their ways and just reeling it in a touch to lay a foundation to explode from so unless someone comes off they are going to need their bowlers to get them out of trouble. Given the number of bowlers they have out there is no guarantees that will happen either.
When you consider that South Africa put in a couple of disappointing displays against the England Lions last week, most judges could have been forgiven for not really expecting a great deal from the tourists in this series but they put in a brilliant display with all their key players contributing and will extract a lot of confidence from that. You could argue that there is more to come from them too when you consider that Quinton de Kock and David Miller didn’t really get a chance to contribute strongly.
The one thing South Africa did do well in that opening match was hold their nerve with the ball when England were going well at the start of their innings. Once the opening came along they jumped right through it and were deserving winnings. They’ll have to keep scoring big if they are going to tame this England side but if they can keep on coming with the ball then there is no reason why they can’t win the series before we get to Headingley.
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England will be forced into a change for this match with Ben Stokes having retired from ODI cricket now. Phil Salt looks to be the man to replace Stokes on his home ground while Matthew Potts is expected to miss out after suffering in the heat on Tuesday. Reece Topley or David Willey are most likely to replace him.
South Africa are also forced into a change after Andile Phehlukwayo suffered a concussion in the opening game which will keep him out of the remainder of the series. Dwaine Pretorius was his replacement in Durham and will start this one.
We know how England are going to play in this match. They are not going to change their ways so we can expect the boundaries to flow. It is very rare these days that you get an England ODI with a boundaries line under 60 but that is the case here, albeit it is 59.5. It was covered here on Sunday when England lost to India in a match which wasn’t even the highest scoring in the world with England only making 259 batting first. With all the building work going on at Old Trafford there has been a short boundary all summer and with The Hundred here in a couple of weeks you would imagine we’ll get a short boundary here somewhere too. Both these teams bat deep and have more in them than they showed at Durham so I like the over to land here.
I’ll also have a play on Moeen Ali to be the top England batter in this match. I don’t believe England are going to want to go right down to number seven before the first left-hander walks to the crease, particularly if there is a short boundary to one side. That is where Moeen Ali batted on Tuesday. He was the second leftie in during that innings with Stokes playing but he isn’t around here so I expect Moeen to go up the order, potentially to four where Stokes batted. Moeen is a decent player of spin so that isn’t a bad position for him to bat anyway and should that be the case then the 14/1 on him top scoring would soon look pretty big. I’ll gladly pay to see how he goes here.
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