England will look to get the better of South Africa in the third Twenty20 international at Edgbaston on Wednesday to level the series and carry the momentum into the ICC World Twenty20 which begins next week. South Africa lead the series after hammering the hosts in the opener at Chester-le-Street, and a washout at Old Trafford on Monday leaves England with a chance to draw level before they depart for Sri Lanka.
England’s biggest worry is their fragile batting line-up. In the absence of Test and ODI regulars Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell, much of the responsibility lies with Ian Morgan and Ravi Bopara who have both flattered to deceive. Morgan’s last five innings in Twenty20s are 9, 9, 2*, 10 and 0* while Bopara has managed 28 runs in five innings against South Africa recently. That puts more pressure on England’s openers Craig Kieswetter and Alex Hales, and there is enough reason for Jonny Bairstow to be promoted up the order ahead of Morgan given the latter’s woeful form.
South Africa look a very balanced side with the return of Jacques Kallis. Hashim Amla is in terrific form and AB de Villiers is one of the best Twenty20 players. Throw in two attacking batsman in JP Duminy and Faf du Plessis, and South Africa have a distinct edge over England.
Bowling-wise, neither team has many problems. For the hosts, Steven Finn and Jade Dernbach are tailor-made for the shorter formats while skipper Stuart Broad is capable of decimating any batting order on his day. Graeme Swann and Samit Patel add variety to the attack.
South Africa are spoilt for choices, with Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Kallis making for an eminently formidable fast-bowling attack. Johan Botha and Robin Peterson shone in the first Twenty20 and have plenty of experience in the format.
From the look of things, the team which bats well will hold the aces and that is where South Africa score above England. The team which wins the toss will likely to bat first, and chasing under lights is difficult for teams at Edgbaston as the ball darts around making life tough for batsmen.
England: 1 Craig Kieswetter (wk), 2 Alex Hales, 3 Luke Wright, 4 Jonny Bairstow, 5 Ravi Bopara, 6 Eoin Morgan, 7 Jos Butler, 8 Stuart Broad (capt), 8 Jade Dernbach, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Samit Patel, 11 Steven Finn
South Africa: 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Richard Levi, 3 AB de Villiers (capt/wk), 4 Faf du Plessis, 5 JP Duminy, 6 Justin Ontong, 7 Albie Morkel, 8 Johan Botha, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Robin Peterson, 11 Morne Morkel