After an extended lull forced by the COVID-19 pandemic, international cricket is slowly getting back on its feet. As part of the same, South Africa will take on England in a limited-overs series that will feature three T20Is and as many ODIs.
The England-South Africa series will kick-off with the first of the three T20I matches on November 27 at Cape Town. The second and third T20I will be played at Paarl and Cape Town respectively.
The ODIs will be played at the same venues from December 4-9. The first and third games will be played at Cape Town, while the second will take place at Paarl. Quinton de Kock will lead the South African side while Eoin Morgan is the leader of the England side. In the head-to-head battle, the hosts have a slender 9-8 lead.
As South Africa and England gear up for the first T20I, here are three player battles to watch out for.
Top 3 player battles in England vs South Africa 1st T20I
#1. Quinton de Kock vs Jofra Archer
Quinton de Kock will be key to South Africa's chances as he is arguably the biggest match-winner of the team with the bat.
De Kock will go into the tournament on the back of an excellent IPL 2020 in which he scored 503 runs at a strike rate of 140.50 with four fifties and a number of impressive cameos in Mumbai Indians’ fifth-title win.
At the top of the innings, de Kock will face Jofra Archer, who has been England’s most effective bowler by some distance since his debut. De Kock has been troubled by the short ball quite a bit, and this is one area where Archer will have an edge over de Kock.
Like the South African captain, Archer too had an excellent IPL 2020, with 20 wickets in 14 games at a strike rate of 16.70 and a brilliant economy rate of 6.55. For his wonderful display, he won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award at IPL 2020.
#2. Jos Buttler vs Kagiso Rabada
Although England’s attacking wicket-keeper batsman Jos Buttler had a mixed IPL 2020 for Rajasthan Royals, he will remain a danger-man as far as South Africa are concerned.
In the T20Is against Australia at home in 2020, England made the inspired move of sending Buttler up to open the innings. The hard-hitting talent won them the series with two terrific knocks of 49 from 29 and 77 not out off 54.
Extreme pace and accuracy can trouble the best of batsmen irrespective of the format. And it's what South Africa speedster Kagiso Rabada will look to delover when he bowls to Buttler.
The Proteas bowling spearhead dominated the bowling charts in IPL 2020 with an unbelievable 30 scalps in 17 games at a strike rate of 13.13. His yorkers and pacy deliveries were unplayable when he got them right.
South Africa will depend heavily on him for the early breakthrough.
#3. Adil Rashid vs David Miller
One contest that doesn’t feature an IPL impact! While Adil Rashid is not on any IPL franchise’s radar, David Miller was run out without facing a ball in his only IPL game for Rajasthan Royals. Both players have key roles to play for their respective national sides.
Rashid had an impressiveT20I series against Australia during which he was the leading wicket-taker. He took six wickets in three games at a strike rate of 12.0 and an economy rate of 6.25. Along with Buttler, he was instrumental in England’s series win.
While de Kock will be critical to South Africa’s fortunes at the top, with his experience, the team will hope Miller to lift it in the middle and end overs. Even as the 31-year-old’s consistency remains a cause of concern, his match-winning ability has never been in doubt.
South African cricket is in a rebuilding phase. This is why Miller will have to take additional batting responsibility. He is likely to face Rashid in the middle overs, and with the ball coming into him, must look to make the most of the natural advantage he has.