South Africa vs England 1st ODI Preview: Proteas' best chance to go one up in absence of Stokes and Archer
The last time England toured South Africa for an ODI series, it was tied at 1-1 with one game being washed out.
England resting players gives SA an opportunity
England will be without four of their key players. The team has rested Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes, Chris Jordan and Sam Curran for the ODI series. All of these four players were coming on the back of a hectic workload.
After initially being part of white-ball fixtures against Pakistan and Australia, they flew to the UAE where they had to remain inside a bio bubble for around two months for the IPL. They flew back to England and were straight away on the flight to South Africa. Given that the next ODI World Cup is in 2023 and the format is placed last in the pecking order currently, England took the opportunity to rest these players.
Still, it will be tough for South Africa to get the better of England even without four of their top players. But, in the absence of these stars, South Africa have a way bigger opportunity to start the ODI series on a positive note than they would have had otherwise.
Pressure on Roy as Bairstow returns up top
Jason Roy would be under the scanner for his poor form after cricket's return post the Covid-19 pandemic break. The explosive opener suffered a shoulder injury in between. Be it that or the long break, he has not been able to find his rhythm and it is the credit in his bank due to his previous performances which is still keeping him in the side.
That said, with the confidence that skipper Eoin Morgan has in him, he is expected to keep his place for the entirety of this series. Jonny Bairstow, who batted at number four in the T20Is, will be back at his preferred slot at the top of the order, with Jos Buttler dropping back in the role of the finisher.
Joe Root will return to the team and will bat at number 3. His presence will provide some solidity to the side in the 50-over format while Eoin Morgan will bat at 4.
Billings, Gregory or Moeen?
With Ben Stokes rested, it would be interesting to see who England bat at number 6. They can either go for a pure batsman with Sam Billings being in the role of the finisher. Given the performances he has dished out in the recent past, he deserves this opportunity.
At the same time, it would not be great for Moeen Ali's confidence to be dropped from the ODIs as well. This presents a tough question in front of the England team management.
Another option which the team has is of right-hand batsman and right-arm medium-fast bowler Lewis Gregory. The all-rounder has good credentials in both the departments and can be handy for any outfit. However, he might have to wait a bit longer for his opportunities.
In the absence of Chris Jordan and Jofra Archer, the England bowling attack is likely to comprise Tom Curran, Chris Woakes, Reece Topley, Adil Rashid and Mark Wood.
Onus on Nortje and Ngidi in Rabada's absence
An injury has ruled out Kagiso Rabada from the ODI series which comes as a big blow for South Africa. In his absence, George Linde, Lutho Sipamla, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi and Anrich Nortje are expected to share the bowling load for the team.
Quinton de Kock is due a big one for his side and is likely to partner either Temba Bavuma or Jaaneman Malan to open the batting. Rassie van der Dussen and Faf Du Plessis remain the pillars for South Africa in the middle order.
George Linde, after having impressed in the T20Is, will be a crucial player for South Africa with both bat and ball.
Here's the probable playing XI of both teams:
England - Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (c), Jos Buttler (wk), Sam Billings/ Moeen Ali, Tom Curran, Chris Woakes, Reece Topley, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood
South Africa - Quinton de Kock (c & wk), Janneman Malan/Temba Bavuma, JJ Smuts, Rassie van der Dussen, Faf Du Plessis, Heinrich Klaasen, George Linde, Lutho Sipamla, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi, Anrich Nortje
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