The final match of the white ball leg of the South Africa tour of England takes place on Friday evening when the Proteas go up against Ireland in the second T20 international between the two in Bristol.
South Africa won what was a very entertaining opening game on Wednesday and will be looking to continue to build their form ahead of the T20 World Cup later in the year. Ireland have that same objective which should see a competitive conclusion to the white ball international summer.
This was always going to be a tough series for Ireland and I don’t think the mind of anyone changed in that regard after the opening match. The first objective for Ireland was to be competitive in the two matches and they certainly achieved that ambition in the opening game. They will now look to push a little closer to their opponents here and potentially pull off the win they have threatened on occasions in their meetings with the big nations this summer.
The strengths and the weaknesses of this Ireland side were there for all to see on Wednesday. We know they are a good batting side and proved that by scoring 190 in a daunting run chase. Those runs were scored without much of a contribution from either Paul Stirling or Harry Tector, arguably the two most dangerous Irish batters so that is a positive. The negative is their death bowling continues to fail them and that needs to change if they are to make the main stage of the T20 World Cup later in the year.
After their series win over England in this format of the game last month, South Africa would have been expected to dominate these two matches even allowing for the fact they appear to be using them to test out one or two combinations. The fact that they were able to do that in the first game and still come out on top shows that they are playing good cricket at the minute and also that they have some really strong strength in depth.
South Africa were without Kagiso Rabada in the opening match but chose to go in without Rilee Rossouw and Anrich Nortje while David Miller was a late withdrawal too. To score more than 210 with two powerhouse batters missing and the other star – Quinton de Kock – making single figures is a real positive. In an ideal world they would have been wanting to win by a few more than they did after posting 211 but they always had the game under control.
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Ireland have to do something about this death bowling of theirs so it might be the time for Andy McBrine to come into the side and bowl a few overs to save their better bowlers for the end a little more.
South Africa clearly changed up their combinations for the opening game and will probably do that for this one too. Kagiso Rabada has been ruled out but South Africa will hope to have David Miller available after a back spasm.
We saw a high scoring match in the first game of the series and I would wager we’re going to see another here with South Africa clearly focused on getting their combinations right rather than playing their strongest bowling attack, while Ireland can only be involved in high scoring games unless they sort their death bowling out. It might just be that they don’t have the personnel in the squad to do anything about what is not a new weakness.
We took the boundary line on Wednesday but that has crept up to 43.5 which is understandable after what we saw in that first game. That is getting towards the higher end of where I would like to bet particularly as we’re on the same ground here. If that line is to be covered I would be very surprised if the sixes one of 13.5 isn’t but there is probably mileage in the sixes being more likely to be covered even if the boundaries aren’t. When England played South Africa here last week there were 29 sixes and only 27 fours while on Wednesday there were 19 sixes to 34 fours. Quinton de Kock, Rassie van der Dussen and Harry Tector didn’t hit a six in that opening game and there is a chance we see Rilee Rossouw and/or David Miller in this one so the six hitting potential looks very high to me.
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