Going into their biggest game, South Africa will be hoping that the law of averages catches up with England batter Jos Buttler, who is averaging 214.00.
For England, who have won all their four games so far, this is more of a ‘practice match’ before the KOs. The pressure to win at all cost will multiply on SA if Australia beat West Indies.
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TOI takes a look at key facets of this final Group 1 match:
Buttler’s marauding blade: In a tournament where many batters with big reputations have bitten the dust, Buttler has stood head and shoulders above everyone, tearing apart attacks at will.
Refreshed after taking a break and missing the second leg of the IPL, the explosive wicketkeeper-bat has come out all guns blazing, pounding 12 sixes and 15 fours and scoring his runs at a brisk strike rate of 153.95.
The England opener made a mockery of Australia’s world-class bowling attack with a power-packed 32-ball unbeaten 71 that helped England chase down 126 in merely 11.2 overs. He went one better against Sri Lanka, hammering a 67-ball unbeaten 101 which had six sixes and as many fours.
Like South African batting great AB de Villiers, Buttler too is a ‘360 degrees’ batsman, who can scoop the ball behind the wickets with ridiculous ease.
Final preparations 💪🏻 Up next, @OfficialCSA 🇿🇦 #T20WorldCup #EnglandCricket https://t.co/vWM8hoBMSC
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SA’s penetrative bowling: Buttler will perhaps face his sternest test now — against one of the most well-rounded bowling attacks of the competition in Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dwaine Pretorious and Keshav Maharaj.
Unleashing some fearsome pace, Rabada and Nortje took six for 26 to destroy Bangladesh for 84 in the last game, though England will, of course, be a different kettle of fish.
In 15.2 overs, Nortje, who touches 150-plus kmph when he cranks it up, has given away just 70 runs while taking eight wickets. Both his average (8.75) and economy (4.56) have been phenomenal.
Putting a disappointing 2019 World Cup — where he was clearly fatigued after a long IPL — behind him, Rabada has taken five wickets at an average of 21.40 and economy rate of of 7.13.
If he can produce a burst similar to the one against Bangladesh, against whom he took three sticks in five balls, South Africa will be through.
SA will also hope for magic from Shamsi, who’s now the No. 2 bowler in T20Is behind Sri Lanka’s Wanindu Hasaranga, and will thus be keen to regain that top ranking.
What a line-up today 😍Predictions?#T20WorldCup https://t.co/R5OePeKje7
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Mills injury a blow to England: England will miss the services of left-arm seamer Tymal Mills, who has flown back home due to an injury. In four games, Mills, who brings variety to the attack, had taken seven wickets in four games at an average of 15.42 and economy rate of 8.00.
His exit opens the door for the pacy Mark Wood to come into the XI. While Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes have done a terrific job for England, taking 11 wickets between them in four games, England’s trump card in T20Is continues to be the old spin firm of leggie Adil Rashid and off-spinner Moeen Ali.
The duo has taken 13 wickets so far, with Rashid’s astonishing four for two haul against the West Indies, who were skittled out for 55 in the opener, standing out.
Giving them good support have been Liam Livingstone, who, for all his batting exploits in various T20 leagues of the world, has done rather well with his leg breaks, conceding runs at just 5.81 per over.
De Kock’s poor form is a headache but SA, meanwhile, boast a solid middle-order While ‘taking the knee’ controversy is now a thing of the past, de Kock, having managed just 35 runs in three games at an average of 11.66 so far, needs to quickly find his mojo again.
South Africa’s middle order looks as solid as ever, but if de Kock can get them off to a flying start, all the pieces of the jigsaw will fit in nicely for them.
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