England v South Africa
Sunday 24 July, 11:00
TV: Live on Sky Sports
England hit back/h2>
England are making progress in developing a solid bowling unit. They may be shorn of picks like Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and Chris Woakes but they have twice defended low totals this summer with a burgeoning group.
Reece Topley, for example, has really come into his own and should be undroppable. His left-arm pace set the tone, taking two wickets and conceding just 17 off his four overs in a rain-reduced match.
The batting display was not the strongest again. Failing to bat the full 29 overs was a black mark. It didn't cost them, though as the run rate of more than seven was more like their reliable style. Recovery from 72 for five in the 12th also showed commendable guts.
To evolve post the retirements of Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes, England need more left-hand options. They may ask Moeen Ali to bat even higher. He should probably replace Phil Salt at No 4. In time another southpaw will have to be added to the XI.
Probable XI: Roy, Bairstow, Root, Salt, Moeen, Buttler, Livingstone, Curran, Willey, Rashid, Topley
South Africa slump
South Africa will be cursing themselves that they let England off the hook. They really should have closed out the game from such a position of strength in the first-innings.
No doubt there will be disappointment that Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Mahraj were outbowled by rival spinners Moeen and Adil Rashid. But in truth their batters never looked like adjusting to damp batting conditions.
That may prompt them to add an extra batter for the decider. Dwaine Pretorius' strong showing with the ball and the availability of Andile Phehlukawayo gives them the option of replacing Lungi Ngidi, who hasn't been as potent as they'd have liked.
Kyle Verreynne, Reeza Hendricks and Khaya Zondo would each be an enticing option and they would still be able to field six bowling options with Aiden Markram a more than capable spinner. Hendricks may play regardless as Jannie Malan is coming under pressure for 'slow' scoring.
Possible XI: De Kock, Malan, Van der Dussen, Markram, Miller, Verreynne, Pretorius, Phehlukwayo, Mahraj, Nortje, Shamsi
This one has been marked down for big runs since the T20 Blast fixtures saw bowlers disappear to all parts. More than 200 was busted in four of the six first-innings of matches of the full quota.
And we were gearing up for heavy stake on both teams notching 275 or more at even money with Sportsbook. Unfortunately the weather forecast has put paid to those plans. Rain is expected and it just wouldn't make sense to place a wager so early on without knowing more about conditions. Bet the Sportsbook markets here.
If, however, the game gets underway in bright, sunny conditions we advise going over the runs par line for whoever bat first. This is a flat track and the batters should relish getting stuck in. We're likely to have to pay overs here at around 305.5. Check back on this page for a bet as it will be updated accordingly if the forecast improves.
Chasers bang in the game
This could be a real ding-dong affair so long as South Africa are are able to put game two's implosion behind them. Write it off as just one of those things or blame the pitch/conditions, just do whatever it takes to get the mindset right.
Both batting units should be bang in the game whether batting first or second. And we would expect the side batting first, weather dependant of course, to be trading as short favourites at the break. That means if it's England their price could hold at 1.574/7. Or South Africa could flip it so they go from 2.6213/8 to 1.758/11.
That's a decent strategy right there. We'd still be keen on the chaser hitting back because there is no deterioration in the surface if those Blast games are anything to go by. Durham failed to defend 207 for example and the two of the three other monster chases were mighty close-run things.
Be aware that late afternoon rain may come to the aid of the chaser and potentially impact the way they go about a target. It could be a very fast start to get ahead of potential D-L method calculations.
As mentioned earlier we think Moeen needs to bat higher to break up the run of right-handers. Even so, the 19/1 with Sportsbook that he top scores if he holds his position at No 5 is monstrously big. Perhaps the oddsmakers are reckoning Moeen was only promoted because of the overs reduction. That makes sense but England's lack of lefties is being openly discussed.
For other chunky prices, check David Miller at 17/2. He batted lower than his usual No 5 but South Africa's order could be flex. Indeed, Pretorius could well be used as a pinch-hitter so we note the 19/1. Bet the Sportsbook markets here.