England vs South Africa, 1st T20I Preview: Buttler's boys look to amp up intensity after indifferent white-ball summer
With both teams at close to full strength, the series will give us a good idea of their standing for the upcoming T20 World Cup.
A step up from ODIs
The 3 T20 Internationals against South Africa will be the last chunk of 12 white ball matches that England have been scheduled to play within a space of just 24 days. While their performances have not been up to scratch, one must cut them some slack given the ridiculous scheduling and the weather playing all sorts of tricks, amid players retiring and captaincy changing hands.
With all due respect to the one day internationals, there will be a lot more relevance to the T20 series as we stand in the World Cup year.
England have their best team available apart from the injured Mark Wood, Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes who has been rested. South Africa too are close to full strength.
The visitors are missing their regular captain Temba Bavuma but Kagiso Rabada is back after being rested for the ODI series and will walk straight back into the South African XI. One of Lungi Ngidi or Keshav Maharaj will have to miss out given the combination that South Africa want to go in with, which will obviously be influenced by the conditions on offer in Bristol.
Spotlight on Rilee Rossouw
Rilee Rossouw has been added to the South African squad for the first time since the 2016 T20 World Cup after the Kolak deal has now become a thing of the past. The opening batter last played for South Africa in 2016 when he made 300 runs at an average of 77.75 in his last ODI series against Australia.
Rossouw has been in red hot form in T20 cricket and finished as the second highest run scorer in the recently concluded T20 Blast with 623 runs from 16 matches, only shy of James Vince's tally of 678. The Somerset batter averaged 47.92 and struck at 192.28, including 7 half centuries and his best of 93.
South Africa have also included 21 year old Gerald Coetzee in their squad but he is not likely to make the Proteas playing XI just yet.
Jordan and Gleeson back to bolster bowling
England will also make a few changes as compared to their ODI team. As Jos Buttler moves to the top of the order alongside Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow will shift to number 4 while Dawid Malan will bat at 3.
There will be room for only one of Philip Salt or Harry Brook even though Ben Stokes has been rested from the series. Chris Jordan and Richard Gleeson will rightfully take their spot back in the English XI which probably means that David Willey will have to miss out with Reece Topley in the form of his life.
Weather and average first innings score in Bristol
The weather is expected to be pleasant at Bristol with the temperatures ranging between 15 degree centigrade and 23 degree centigrade. The precipitation will be at 20% and though there will be a few clouds, chances of rain are quite low.
The County Ground in Bristol has hosted 6 T20 Internationals with 149 being the average first innings score. The highest total recorded at the venue is 201 for 3 by India, chasing down England's 198 for 9 with eight balls to spare back in 2018.
Predicted Playing XIs
England - Jason Roy, Jos Buttler (c & wk), Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone, Philip Salt/Harry Brook, Moeen Ali, Chris Jordan, Reece Topley, Richard Gleeson, Adil Rashid
South Africa - Rilee Rossouw, Quinton de Kock (wk), Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller (c), Dwaine Pretorius, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi/Keshav Maharaj, Tabraiz Shamsi
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