Hosts can dazzle under lights

South Africa v England
Sunday 6 December 08.00
TV: live on Sky Sports

South Africa suited

South Africa will be happier to be playing ODI rather than T20 where their lack of power and aggression counts against them. A slightly more nuanced version should play to their strengths.

Indeed, they are unbeaten in their last five series at home. In February they beat Australia 3-0, following on from a 1-1 draw with England.

They do still struggle for balance, though and they will wrestle with an extra batter or an extra bowler, probably the latter after injury ruled out Kagiso Rabada. JJ Smuts’ strong form from No 3 against Australia could allow them to squeeze in an extra all-rounder. There is no Faf Du Plessis.

We do not know which home player tested positive for Covid so any of the following could miss out.

Possible XI J Malan, De Kock, Bavuma, Smuts, Klaasen, K Verreyene Phehlukwayo, Linde, Shamsi, Nortje, Ngidi

No Stokes

Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and the irrepressible Dawid Malan have gone home. Stokes’s absence gives England a South Africa-style issue with a sixth bowler. Does Joe Root, returning to the team, fill in?

One would hope so for the sake of Sam Billings, who has finally taken his chance and put together a sequence of scores. It would be harsh if he was dropped for Lewis Gregory.

Chris Woakes will be the leader of an attack which could comprise one of Mark Wood or Olly Stone. Wood has been chomping at the bit to get a game but England are keen to see how Stone goes after impressing in warm-ups.

Possible XI Roy, Bairstow, Root, Morgan, Buttler, Billings, Moeen, Woakes, T Curran, Rashid, Stone

Pitch report

There have only been three ODI played at Boland Park since 2013. And they tell us nothing because of mismatches. South Africa pummelled Bangladesh for 353 in 2017. The following year they bowled out Zimbabwe for 228. In February, we did have a contest - South Africa versus Australia. The hosts defended 291 with ease under lights.

South Africa to defend

It is 1.501/2 England playing 3.052/1 South Africa. That’s a slight drift for the hosts since the original game one was postponed for Cape Town. Presumably they would have been happier to stay there because the toss bias under lights reduced the gulf.

With the venue switch goes our confidene on a straight wager on South AFrica. Instead we will look to trade them batting first into a choice affair. Remember, even without Rabada against Australia they still won easily. The bowling unit has potency.

Tops value

Sportsbook have boosted Quinton de Kock’s top SA bat price from 11/4 to 10/3. We note Heinrich Klaasen’s price of 7/1 Jonny Bairstow, excellent in the T20s, is boosted to 7/2. That will have big appeal considering the struggles of his opening partner Jason Roy.

With the ball, Lungi Ngidi looks to be a standout at 7/2 third favourite for top SA bowler. Stone, a similar style of gung-ho pacer, is 9/2 for top England wicket-taker.

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