There are two matches left in the South Africa white ball tour of England and they both come along in the 20 over format against Ireland with the first of those encounters coming from Bristol on Wednesday evening.
These matches allow both nations the chance to continue their progression and preparation for the upcoming T20 World Cup and with chances to impress beginning to reduce in number you sense this will be more competitive than some T20 internationals.
Wherever happened over these two matches Ireland certainly won’t be able to use inactivity as an excuse if they need it because they have not long come off of a series against New Zealand. That was a series where they promised a little bit more than they delivered. That series followed hot on the heels of a two game battle against India in which Ireland were probably more competitive than they were expected to be. Now the task is to come out on top in a series like this.
The trend in both of those series was that they looked very good with the bat in hand but when it came to the ball they were found wanting. I don’t think that is anything we don’t see from any other associate or lesser established full member side but while the former is a positive the latter is a concern. It is at the death where they are particularly light and on a Bristol pitch which isn’t likely to give much to the bowlers they might well go the distance come the end of the innings.
This is the third series of the summer for South Africa, although I think it is fair to say it is the weaker one of the three so the fact that they didn’t lose either of their first two has to be a positive. South Africa opened up this spell with a 2-2 draw in India which might have felt like a loss to them given that they were 2-0 up in it. They then came from behind to beat England 2-1 last week but probably don’t need reminding that the match they lost came on this ground.
In the two matches South Africa won they put a decent score on the board on both occasions and then defended what they had so it might be that they choose to chase here to show that they are able to do that. I always think teams who go into tournaments knowing they have all based covered tend to perform better so it would be another box they could tick. The problem they have is Ireland are almost certain to bowl first so South Africa would have to win the toss in order to be able to chase.
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One thing which isn’t going to help Ireland in this series is that Craig Young has been ruled out of it so Graham Hume could come in for his debut in this format of the game having played in the ODIs against New Zealand.
South Africa didn’t really rotate their bowlers in the T20 series and paid the price as Kagiso Rabada is nursing an injury. They probably won’t want to risk Anrich Nortje ahead of the Test series with doubts over Rabada so Marco Jansen could make his first appearance on the tour.
I’ve looked at this from all angles and I’m not sure how this one isn’t laced with boundaries. We saw in the match here last week that the boundaries clearly aren’t big enough for the South Africa batters but Ireland are no slouches when it comes to finding the ropes either and they will be assisted in that department by the absence of Kagiso Rabada and potentially of no Anrich Nortje either, although even with them in the side the pace on the ball could go the distance.
The boundaries line for this match is 38.5 which just looks low. South Africa lost Quinton de Kock and Rilee Rossouw inside the first two overs here last week but still pounded the England attack for 27 boundaries and this Ireland attack is set to go the distance as well. Ireland took an India attack for 33 boundaries six weeks or so ago and even in the final T20 against New Zealand they picked up 26 boundaries. On this ground these two should combine for more than 38.5 boundaries.
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