Ed Hawkins previews the encounter from Durban on Friday and argues the hosts could be a bet if they pick the right XI...
"South Africa’s jigsaw is a concern. But if they pick another batsman and get the opportunity to post 160, they are value. At the very least we expect them to trade as favourites"
South Africa v England
Friday 14 February, 16:00
TV: live on Sky Sports
South Africa unbalanced
South Africa, for the third time this winter, have taken the lead in a series against England. Can they finally hold on?
They might have to start picking a better balanced XI if so. Despite victory in East London, the make-up of their team was lopsided. They picked seven bowlers, trying to mask the fact by not actually bowling one of them - Dwaine Pretorius.
If Pretorius is not going to bowl and therefore be classed as a batsman, his record has to be superior to that of Reeza Hendricks, who could add needed firepower up front. It's not. So why is he playing?
One suspects South Africa will allow victory to cloud rationale thought. In the cold light of day they should realise they got lucky with their one-run victory
Possible XI De Kock, Bavuma, Hendricks, Van der Dussen, Miler, Smuts, Phehlukwayo, Steyn, Shamsi, Ngidi.
England miss trick
England did not cover themselves in glory in game one. Much was made on these pages before a ball was bowled about England boasting the brawn for success in T20. What was in question was their brains.
It seemed to take at least 10 overs bowling first for them to wake up to the state of the wicket. Had they realised earlier (just one over as it transpired) that it was a wicket which was tacky, boosted bowlers with variations, cutters and back-of-the-hand deliveries, they would have won comfortably.
In the second half of South Africa's innings they worked it out. But it proved too little too late. Their powerplay performance was, frankly, inexplicable.
Jason Roy and Eoin Morgan marshalled the chase superbly. But Morgan then forgot about the state of the wicket, trying to hit consecutive sixes.
Probable XI Roy, Buttler, Bairstow, Stokes, Denly, Morgan, Ali, T Curran, Jordan, Rashid, Wood.
Another slow surface
There have been 10 T20 internationals under lights at Kingsmead with four each won by the side batting first and second. The first-innings score in the four night matches (1-2 denote match won by side batting first or second, most recent first) read; 157-2/151-2/196-1/80(7 overs)-2. In the last ten Mzansi Super League matches, the average first-innings score is 152. Four times more than 160 was busted.
This is in keeping with Kingsmead's reputation as bowler friendly. Teams defend more than 170 75% of the time. There's also a disadvantage to chasing with a 42% win rate over all matches. This means that South Africa's burgeoning reputation for poor chasing makes the toss key.
Hosts can trade
South Africa are [2.54] with England [1.59]. The gulf has been reduced but it might not be enough to convince punters that England are anywhere close to being value.
There has been much debate post game one about England's batting order. Analysts are claiming England are stronger if Buttler plays as a finisher. And if not, Eoin Morgan has to bat after Moeen Ali.
That maybe right. But it has nothing to do with defeat. England lost that match because Morgan made a mistake. It was shot selection over player selection. That will happen regardless where people bat.
South Africa's jigsaw is of more concern. If they pick another batsman and get the opportunity to post 160, they are value. At the very least we expect them to trade as favourites. The weather forecast, so often poor for Durban, is clear of rain.
England should win six battle
Buttler is into 12/5 from 9/2 for top England bat with Sportsbook now his place as opener has been confirmed. He should continue. Roy, who notched at Buffalo Park, is 13/5 to continue the trend for England's top batter to be an opener (12 in last 18).
For South Africa Quinton de Kock is 2/1 jolly and that looks a little short. Tenba Bavuma, who was excellent in taking honours in game one, is 7/2. Rassie van der Dussen is the same price.
The best bat-related wager may be the cut price about England hitting most sixes. They have a superior average on two-year data and one 'defeat' shouldn't put us off. They're 10/11 from 5/6.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l