By Neil Leverett
- South Africa face England in the third ODI on Sunday at The Wanderers in Johannesburg
- Friday’s game in Durban washed out, with Proteas retaining 1-0 series lead
- Tourists can level series with win; could be unchanged from Newlands
THE WANDERERS, JOHANNESBURG – After Friday’s game was abandoned in Durban, can the tourists salvage a series draw in the third and final ODI at The Wanderers on Sunday?
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Morgan on rescue mission
After suffering defeat to South Africa on their first outing as World champions at Newlands, England would’ve been keen to bounce back and regain their vim after a Test series win on the Southern hemisphere. However, after the second ODI was washed out in Durban on Friday, that ambition has now changed into merely settling for a series draw – at best.
With an ODI series victory now out of the tourists’ reach, Sunday becomes a salvage mission for Eoin Morgan‘s men. Knowing a further three games in the T20 form of the game follow next week, England will be keen on not only leveling the scores but taking winning momentum to East London next Wednesday.
On a day of huge frustration for England, only 11.2 overs were bowled as Temba Bavuma‘s overturned LBW review was the final action at Kingsmead, as the players were finally forced off for good with the match abandoned shortly after.
As the disappointment settles in with a tour clean-sweep now an impossibility, Morgan’s men would have been encouraged by their response only days ago, not least them winning the toss but also seeing Joe Root dismissing Proteas skipper Quinton de Kock for the second time in two games, with his increasingly awkward and orthodox spin.
Though the weather could come into play again at The Wanderers, England must focus on proving their status as the number one side in cricket, whilst also knowing the indignity that awaits of losing a series by default remains a possibility on Sunday.
Predicting the England XI has become something of a lottery this three-match series and after changes were expected to be implemented at Kingsmead, Morgan then elected to retain the same side from defeat in Cape Town.
As both Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali continued to be spectators on the South Africa tour, there is little to suggest Tom Banton and Matt Parkinson won’t be given another chance to state their respective cases in Jo’burg, with the trip to Sri Lanka to come next month.
England will again be relying on their top order setting up the innings and despite an opening 50 partnership in Cape Town, both Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow will be keen to show their full explosive batting repertoire.
Joe Denly also has much to prove with his place in the touring party to Sri Lanka in major doubt, and though he should still be afforded chances to impress in the T20 series to come, the Kent man will again want to show his place as a pivotal anchor in the England order.
Proteas seek champions’ series scalp
Whilst the weather played a role of frustration in one quarter, South Africa would have been quietly content in watching the Durban deluge knowing they now cannot follow up a Test series defeat with overall loss at one-day level.
Taking the scalp of the World champions would be quite the prize for the Proteas on their first venture into a new era, but the hosts will be expecting a reaction and must quell that threat.
Despite their victory in the only result of the series, de Kock opted to keep competition for places in his new set-up fresh last time out, with Lungi Ngidi making way for left-arm leggie Bjorn Fortuin.
Like their opponents, South Africa could throw a curve ball and revert to type but similarly with the tourists, it would be a surprise now to see an altered line-up from the XI that played a curtailed contest in Durban.
England were the Proteas’ competition in the opening game of the World Cup last summer – a game Faf du Plessis‘ men lost by a tally of over 100 runs. Given their problems to follow in the tournament in reference – failing to progress from the Group stages – it would be quite the feat then, for the Proteas to win their first series under the guidance of de Kock against the champions.
After something of a demolition job in the Test series, should the Proteas avoid defeat at Kingsmead, a 1-0 win over England will form a very different picture for South African cricket indeed.
The third and final ODI between South Africa and England takes place on Sunday at The Wanderers, Johannesburg.
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