Ed Hawkins says there's no evidence England should be as short to take the series in Centurion on Sunday...
"Given the close nature of the games, it is impossible to make a case for England being anything remotely close to value at such prohibitive odds"
South Africa v England
Sunday 16 February, 12:30
TV: live on Sky Sports
South Africa still unbalanced
South Africa are unlikely to be too down about defeat in Durban. Their batsmen made an extraordinary attempt to chase down 205, losing by only two runs.
Quinton de Kock gave them a ferocious start - hitting eight sixes on his own within the first eight overs - before blasts from Rassie van der Dussen and Dwaine Pretorius kept England sweating.
Still, one has to ask questions about balance. In run-heavy matches South Africa are selling themselves short by the selection of JJ Smuts and Pretorius. It has to be one or the other. Alternatively they have not bowled in games one and two. And if they're not bowling, draft an extra specialist batter in.
Pretorius should hold onto his spot because Smuts looks like he is struggling with the step up in class. Reeza Hendricks or Heinrich Klaasen are available. Dale Steyn sat out game two and could return, possibly for the potent Lungi Ngidi who South Africa like to rest.
Possible XI De Kock, Bavuma, Hendricks, Van der Dussen, Miller, Pretorius, Phehlukwayo, Fortuin, Steyn, Shamsi, B Hendricks
England could play fringe players
England are level. But by the skin of their teeth. For consecutive matches they have performed in the field with the intelligence of a dosed-up seaside donkey.
With just seven matches to go to the World Cup, it would appear England's fortunes, just like in 50-overs, rest on Jofra Archer. Archer revolutionised England's bowling for that tournament and he may have to do the same in this format.
With time against them, England may shuffle the pack. Jos Buttler could be demoted to give Tom Banton or Dawid Malan a shot at opening. There's an easy swap with Joe Denly making way. What Denly is doing in the team, after Joe Root was jettisoned, is anyone's guess. If you're going to pick that style of player, you pick Root. Saqib Mahmood could come in for Mark Wood and Matt Parkinson for Adil Rashid.
Possible XI Roy, Banton, Bairstow, Stokes, Buttler, Morgan, Ali, T Curran, Jordan, Parkinson, Mahmood
Centurion assists batters
There have been five T20 internationals at Centurion since August 2015. The first-innings score in those matches (1-2 denote match won by side batting first or second, most recent first) read: 180-1/168-1/1882-126-2/177-1. In the last ten Mzansi Super League matches, the average first-innings score read: 126-2/148-2/148-2/216-2/188-2. The combined run rate for 2019 was 8.33, the fifth consecutive year it has been higher than eight. This should be a wicket with runs, holding firm for the chaser. The weather forecast is fine.
Two matches in and these sides have been separated by one run and two runs respectively. Well-matched, then. Not that the match odds market agrees. South Africa are [2.60] and England [1.60].
Given the close nature of the games, it is impossible to make a case for England being anything remotely close to value at such prohibitive odds. Sure, they might win but they're likely to give you a coronary in doing so. No thanks.
There is nothing wrong with trading that South Africa price. There's plenty of room for them to come jollies but, as we have said since ball one, we're not keen on them as chasers. They have better abilities to put a squeeze on when defending.
Ngidi should be jolly
De Kock is 2/1 for top South Africa runscorer with Betfair Sportsbook. He will prove popular after two fast starts so far. At Centurion he has 490 runs in 12 innings, striking at 156. Van Der Dussen, with 198 in six, is 7/2.
Buttler retains favourite status at 12/5 but there is doubt whether he retains the opening slot. Banton and Malan are 4/1 and 9/2 respectively. Jason Roy, who has been terrific, is 13/5.
Steyn is 3/1 for top South Africa bowler but Ngidi deserves jolly status because of two wins from two. He takes a wicket every 13 balls at Centurion compared to Steyn's 21.
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
Trade South Africa batting first [2.60] to [1.70]