3 player battles to watch out for in the 1st SA vs ENG ODI
South Africa are set to take on England in a three-match ODI series at home, with the first game set to be played at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein on Friday, January 27.
Players from both teams have been actively involved in the inaugural SA20 in South Africa. They will now resume national duty in a crammed series before the league resumes on February 2.
This is a massive series for South Africa as far as securing direct qualification for the 50-over World Cup in India later this year is concerned. With 30 crucial World Cup Super League points up for grabs, Temba Bavuma and Co. are in desperate need of pocketing as many of them as they possibly can.
On that note, let's dive into three crucial player battles that could define the first ODI between South Africa and England.
#1 Quinton de Kock vs Jofra Archer
The world is waiting with bated breath for Jofra Archer's international return. If he takes the field for the first ODI on Friday, it will be his first appearance for England since March 2021.
Archer has been steaming in at full throttle for MI Cape Town in SA20. Given that he is most likely to take the new ball, all eyes will be on how Quinton de Kock is able to counter him up top.
South Africa are reliant on their dashing wicketkeeper-batter to tee off the blocks, with Bavuma taking his time to build an innings at the other end. Archer's pace and ability to angle it across the left-handers ought to make this a spicy matchup at the Mangaung Oval.
#2 Kagiso Rabada vs Jason Roy
Jason Roy's struggles with the bat continue to linger into 2023 as well, with the opener enduring a torrid time in SA20 ahead of this series. Desperately in need of runs, one fears this series could be a 'make or break' for the Surrey opener.
The last thing an out-of-form batter wants is to run into a bowler of Kagiso Rabada's caliber. More so, with South Africa's spearhead enjoying a healthy head-to-head against Roy, having dismissed him thrice in eight ODI innings to date.
Roy has been phenomenal for England since making his debut in the format in 2015. However, with plenty of competition for spots, he must score those big runs this series. With Rabada standing in his way, his ordeal is only going to get tougher.
#3 Rassie van der Dussen vs Adil Rashid
It goes without saying that Rassie van der Dussen is currently South Africa's best batter in the 50-over format - a fact reiterated by his stellar average of 69.31 after 38 ODIs.
The biggest key to his success is the manner in which he maneuvers the ball around in the middle overs to set himself up for a big flourish. His prowess against spin in this format is also well-documented, and this puts his battle against England's ace weapon Adil Rashid into the mix.
Rashid has dismissed Van der Dussen once in four ODI innings thus far, with the latter averaging 50 at a strike rate of 90.90. While the sample size is small, it is also a decent reflection of the latter's skill in this format.
With Rashid tasked with breaking games open for England in the middle overs, this is set to be a tantalizing battle.
Also read: Picking the combined PBKS and DC 11 for IPL 2023
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