Cricket Tips

South Africa v England First ODI Tips: Hosts have edge batting first

Dawid Malan and Jos Buttler
Malan and Buttler are top-bat fancies

Ed Hawkins has five solid wagers for the opening encounter in the series in Bloemfontein on Friday...

South Africa v England
Friday 27 January, 11:00
TV: Live on Sky Sports

Team news

It's a bit of a shame that South Africa have decided against giving some of their thrusting hitting talent a whirl in this series. Dewald Brevis and Donovan Ferreira spring to mind.

Instead it's same old, same old. Temba Bavuma is back to try to put a nightmare T20 World Cup behind him. Quinton de Kock has an air of a guy raging against the dying of the light.

One from Aiden Markram or Rassie van der Dussen could miss out on a start which puts pressure on Bavuma. Reeza Hendricks is likely to replace Jannie Malan in the opening berth.

Possible XI: De Kock, Hendricks, Bavuma, Markram/Van Der Dussen, Klaasen Miller, Jansen, Maharaj, Rabada, Nortje, Ngidi

England have an issue with Jason Roy's dreadful form. He has struggled in the SAT20 and it would be a risk to pick him. However, they have few options apart from Ben Duckett or Dawid Malan being asked to open.

Jofra Archer has said he is only 80% fit so it would be a major surprise if he played. Olly Stone should come in. Joe Root was not included in the squad.

Possible XI: Salt, Duckett/Malan, Brook, Moeen, Buttler, S Curran, Woakes, Rashid, Stone, Topley

Pitch report

England made 399 versus South Africa at Bloemfontein in 2016. Then there were scores of 198 by South Africa against Zimbabwe in 2018 and 271 by Australia in 2020.

We suspect runs are in the offing in the first dig but there's no blanket bet. In terms of run rates for both teams (last two-years data) South Africa will par at 280 and England 295.

How to play

South Africa are 2.427/5 for the win and that looks like a decent bet. The rationale, at its most basic, is that man for man England just don't appear to be 1.645/8 chances.

We'll try to be a little cleverer than that, though. England have an even money record fielding first in the last two years. South Africa's strength is setting a target and defending - winning seven from 11.

The toss is key, then, particularly as South Africa have won only twice chasing in eight tempts. We're not saying they can't or won't chase, it's just to make sure we're having the shrewdest bet possible.

Tops value

There are some disappointing win rates on the top bats for England but Malan's three in 11 is the best record and on picthes which suit (and a possible opening berth), there's a case to be made that he's a bet at 7/2.

Jos Buttler is giving us almost four points on win rate at 6/1. He might edge Malan as the option because he has had time to get used to teha ction in the SAT20. We're also poised to take Roy for under 23.5 runs at 5/6. For South Africa, Jannie Malan still boasts a win rate of 33% so he is hard to argue against at 4/1.

With the ball, Sam Curran's death job means he should be shorter than 7/2. We'd make him favourite with 5/2 incumbent Archer unlikely to play. Anrich Nortje has the best strike rate of the home bowlers in the last 12 months and is 3/1.

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