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  • England v South Africa, World T20

England must follow up Hales blitz

The Preview by Firdose Moonda
March 28, 2014
Alex Hales became the first English batsman to hit a T20 international century in their victory against Sri Lanka © Getty Images
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Match Facts

March 29, 2014, Chittagong
Start time 1930 (1330GMT)

Big Picture

When South Africa and England have met at World T20s in the past, it has always been accompanied by pressure. In 2007 and 2009, they clashed in the first match of the second round, in which all teams started with no points and making a statement early was imperative.

South Africa succeeded both times. In 2010, they shared top spot in their group before locking horns and England's triumph put them on course for the trophy. This time it is must-win for both of them and even that may not be enough to secure a semi-final spot.

For South Africa there is a simple scenario of this match: win and they are into the semi-finals as Sri Lanka and New Zealand still need to play each other so only one of those can end of six points. If they lose, the equation becomes far more complicated and given South Africa's history in global tournaments that version of events would be no surprise. And now they have to factor in being without their captain, Faf du Plessis, who has been suspended for a slow over rate against Netherlands.

Lonwabo Tsotsobe's place could be under threat after an expensive showing against Netherlands © Getty Images
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A defeat for England and it would be all-but over, just 48 hours after the blitz by Alex Hales. If New Zealand have overcome Netherlands and Stuart Broad's team then lose, they are out of the tournament.

It would be ideal if the fate of the semi-finalists was not clear until the final group matches on Monday. That is the way a multi-team tournament should play out and with both in patchy form and everything to play for, their desperation to do well should provide more than enough excitement.

Form guide (completed matches, most recent first)

South Africa WWLLLL
England WLWLL

Watch out for

They will not have anything to do with the outcome of the match but the twin beards of Hashim Amla and Moeen Ali will be impossible to miss. It is not the first time these two magnificent manes will be on the same field - they met when South Africa played a warm-up match in Worcester on their 2012 tour to England - but it is their maiden international outing together. Don't be surprised if Amla and Ali share trimming tips in between overs.

With so much at stake for both teams, you can expert raging tempers in this match, especially among the bowlers. Dale Steyn's dancing eyes look to intimidate England's line-up, Jade Dernbach's will try and dig holes into South Africa's. The teams have enough history between them to rub each other up the wrong way and send off some fireworks in the process.

Team news

England have a small concern over Broad's knee. He did not train on Friday to rest it but said he "should be okay," for the match. Ian Bell has recovered from his upset stomach but is unlikely to make an appearance in the XI which could see England field an unchanged side.

England (probable) 1 Michael Lumb, 2 Alex Hales, 3 Moeen Ali, 4 Eoin Morgan, 5 Jos Buttler (wk), 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Tim Bresnan, 8 Chris Jordan, 9 Stuart Broad (capt), 10 James Tredwell, 11 Jade Dernbach

AB de Villiers will captain in place of the suspended du Plessis while Farhaan Behardien is likely to come into the middle order. Wayne Parnell has rejoined the South African camp after attending a court hearing in Mumbai and may be slotted straight into the XI at either Lonwabo Tsotsobe or Beuran Hendricks' expense. South Africa may also want to bring Morne Morkel back, which could see both left-armers, Tsotosbe and Hendricks benched.

South Africa (possible) 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 JP Duminy, 4 AB de Villiers (capt), 5 Farhaan Behardien, 6 David Miller, 7 Albie Morkel, 8 Dale Steyn 9 Wayne Parnell, 10 Morne Morkel 11 Imran Tahir

Conditions

The surface on which South Africa played Netherlands showed signs of sluggishness and the most effective bowlers were those who took the pace off the ball. There were no similar problems in the England-Sri Lanka match though, so perhaps not much should be read into the behaviour of the first track. Saturday is set to be the warmest day out of the last week in Chittagong with the mercury rising to 34 degrees and no rain is forecast.

Stats and trivia

  • The head to head T20 record between South Africa and England is tight. They have played eight matches, South Africa have won four and England three with one no result.

  • Alex Hales has the most runs in T20 cricket this year with 241 from eight matches while Imran Tahir is third on the highest wicket-takers list for 2014 with 11 scalps from just four matches.

Quotes

"There's more for the seamers than we were anticipating when we got to Bangladesh. England have got a quality attack and we'll have to work hard on our strategies. We know we've got to beat England to try and progress. It might still come down to run-rate. There's still a lot to play for."
South Africa's coach Russell Domingo expects England's quicks to be the main threat in what is a must-win game for his team

"South Africa probably haven't fired as you would expect in this tournament so far with the danger they've got but they had key men getting them over the line."
Because South Africa have only just edged over the line for the two matches they've won, Stuart Broad is wary that they are yet to perform at the best

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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