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Series, reputation on the line for South Africa

England heads into the third ODI with momentum on its side as it seeks to inflict a rare double defeat on the host

Series, reputation on the line for South Africa - Cricket News
The last time South Africa lost both Tests and the One-Day Internationals in the same series at home was during the 2001-2002 season. Come Tuesday (February 9), it could well have to relive that nightmare when it locks horns with England in the third ODI of their five-match series at Centurion.

That old humiliation at the hands of the Australians was not a huge shock, because some of the game’s greatest, at the peak of their powers, had inflicted the loss on South Africa. But, this time, it’s a young and brash English outfit, even though this English side probably feels as invincible in the 50-over format as Australia did over a decade ago.

England’s success on the tour, where it won the Tests 2-1 and is up 2-0 in the ODIs, has had to do with several of its players performing their roles to perfection, but a large part of it has also had to do with how South Africa has slipped at times.

Arguably the biggest factor in South Africa coming under the hammer over the past few months has been its bowling unit. In the absence of Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada has done his bit, and the addition of Kyle Abbott for the second ODI did spruce things up a bit, but with Morne Morkel not as incisive as expected, it has been an uphill task.

The batting unit has the names all right, but the batsmen haven’t fired in unison. It’s come to light that even AB de Villiers can go through a slump, but he did buck the trend in the second ODI by making a cautious 73 – not very AB, as he scored those runs of 91 balls, but still it was something. That’s certainly good news for South Africa, as is the form shown by Quinton de Kock. Hashim Amla’s form, however, has been disappointing.

For England, there are Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Jos Buttler, Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali as the frontline batsmen – if that list in itself isn’t good enough, the fact that they are all in great nick should be. The man at the forefront has been Buttler, who scored a 76-ball 105 – his slowest ODI century – in the first game and, in collaboration with Moeen, took England home in the second game after Hales’s 99 at the top of the order.

With the ball, England has relied on individuals to come through so far. In the first ODI, it was Moeen, and in the second, it was Reece Topley. The rest have done their bit by not going for too many, but England will need them to do a bit more than that because South Africa, with the players it has, can bounce back any time.

Teams (from)

South Africa:
AB de Villiers (capt), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wk), Marchant de Lange, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, David Wiese.

England: Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler (wk), Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Taylor, Reece Topley, David Willey, Chris Woakes.


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