With the T20I series in the bag, visitors England will look to inflict a 3-0 whitewash on hosts South Africa when the teams come face-to-face in the final T20I at Cape Town.
After failing to defend a target of 180 in the opening encounter, South Africa put up a poor batting show at Paarl, managing a below-par 146 for 6 after being sent in to bat.
The bowlers fought hard for South Africa, but they just did not have the runs on the board to make a match out of it. In the end, England got home in what was a somewhat tense chase.
The 2-0 scoreline reflects the current status of the two teams. While South Africa have been in rebuild mode for a couple of seasons now, England’s build-up to the T20 World Cup next year seems in fine fettle.
Top 3 player battles in England vs South Africa 3rd T20I
With the England vs South Africa dead rubber all set to take place at Cape Town, here are three player face-offs to watch out for.
1. Dawid Malan vs Tabraiz Shamsi
The world’s number one T20I batsman Dawid Malan lived up to his reputation with a match-winning and, in effect, series-clinching half-century at Paarl.
Although England were only chasing 147 for victory in the match, the visitors found themselves in major trouble at 83 for 4. Most of England’s big names were dismissed cheaply, and South Africa were still in the contest.
Malan, however, made sure that there were no further hiccups for England with an assured half-century. It was an innings befitting of the world’s number one T20I batsman.
Although South Africa went down in the second T20I, left-arm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi put up an excellent display with the ball. He tossed the ball up beautifully and was rewarded with three big scalps.
Buttler, Bairstow and Stokes all fell to the guile of Shamsi as the spinner raised hopes of a Proteas fight back. Shamsi finished with excellent figures of 3 for 19, to further improve his reputation in international cricket.
It should be an interesting one should Malan and Shamsi come face to face.
2. Quinton de Kock vs Jofra Archer
If South Africa want to avoid a whitewash at Cape Town, their skipper Quinton de Kock will have to lead from the front in the third T20I.
De Kock has got off to starts in both the previous matches so far, but has failed to convert them. He made 30 from 23 in the first T20I and contributed another 30 from 18 in the Paarl encounter.
While both were decent knocks, a lot more is expected from a player of De Kock's stature. Also, with obvious weaknesses in the current South African batting line-up, De Kock will have to shoulder extra responsibility.
De Kock has had several tense battles with England pace spearhead Jofra Archer in recent times. The latter even troubled the wicketkeeper-batsman with the short-pitched stuff in the IPL.
In the current series, Archer has been on top of his game again. Although he has only picked up only one wicket each in both the games, the fearsome fast bowler hasn’t allowed the South African batsmen any freedom to play their shots.
The Proteas opener will have to find out a way to unsettle Archer if they want to compete in the final T20I.
3. Kagiso Rabada vs Jos Buttler
If De Kock will have to lift South Africa in the batting department, Kagiso Rabada needs to do the same when it comes to the Proteas’ bowling.
Rabada hasn’t done a bad job so far with figures of 0 for 32 and 1 for 25 in the two matches. However, just like his South African skipper, a lot more will be expected of Rabada in the final T20I as they play for pride.
On days when he gets it right, there are few better limited-overs bowlers in international cricket. Rabada’s yorkers and bouncers can test the best.
England opener Jos Buttler hasn’t done much of note in the two T20Is against South Africa. He made 7 in the first game, and was looking good on 22 in the second, before he was cleaned up by Shamsi.
With the series already in the bag though, Buttler can go out with an uncluttered mind in the final match. Before the IPL, he had an excellent T20I series against Australia, having been promoted to open.
In fact, he was pivotal to England’s series triumph against the Aussies with 44 from 29 and an unbeaten 77 from 54. Buttler will be keen to finish off the T20I series on a high. For that, he will have to get past the challenge that Rabada poses first.