By Neil Leverett
- South Africa play England in the second ODI in Durban on Friday, with hosts holding 1-0 series lead after seven-wicket win at Newlands on Tuesday
- World champions decidedly off-key in Cape Town, with captain Eoin Morgan considering changes for Kingsmead
- Proteas could seal series victory with win, as spectre of stormy weather looms in Natal province
KINGSMEAD, DURBAN – After the tourists were thumped by South Africa in Cape Town on Tuesday, can England bounce back in the second ODI at Kingsmead on Friday?
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Tourists’ look to Durban restoration
If England were under any illusion as to the task staying at the top of the cricketing hierarchy would be be, Tuesday’s seven-wicket defeat to South Africa in Cape Town would have been quite the chastening experience for the World champions.
As the tourists’ now familiar fireworks show failed to materialise, Eoin Morgan‘s men stuttered in their first game since winning the World Cup at Lords last July, as Newlands’ slow-turning deck hampered the ability of England’s gun batsman to assert their power game.
Aside from the opening 50 partnership from Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow, the foundations of the tourists’ batting order crumbled. As debutante Tom Banton was unable to bring the innings together either, it was down to Joe Denly to steady the ship whose forlorn 87 was not enough to thwart the Proteas’ romp to victory.
England have already performed admirably in arrears on this tour, but the pressures of expectation now weigh heavy on the shoulders of the World Cup winners. The question is, can the tourists bounce back and make a statement of their own?
Rashid set for recall
In defeat, a re-shuffle is expected with Adil Rashid set to be drafted back into the England XI for his 100th cap, following Matt Parkinson‘s rather laboured outing at Newlands – in favour of the Yorkshire spinner.
With Kingsmead set to offer similar conditions to that of Tuesday’s wicket, Morgan will turn to the more experienced hands of Rashid, who will extend England’s tail somewhat with an ODI best of 69 to his name.
Should the tourists be pondering a double change, Moeen Ali could come under consideration to replace Banton at number six in the hope of re-balancing England’s middle-order, should runs again be at a premium in the early going.
Cast-off from the starting XI in the midst of the world champions’ early struggles in the World Cup last summer, the return to the fold of the Worcestershire all-rounder – after a period which saw his form fall away alarmingly – would give the 32-year-old the opportunity to showcase his importance to his country.
Denly earned a reprieve after his composed 87 in attempting to build a par score, and as one of few positives from the tourists’ flop earlier this week, the Kent man will be eyeing back-to-back consistency, with names queuing up to fill his boots.
In terms of England’s main bowling attack, despite claiming just a single wicket apiece at Newlands, both Chris Jordan and Chris Woakes will be looking for a more successful outing in what could be swing-friendly, humid conditions in Durban.
With Ben Stokes remaining with the touring party but not competing, his plus Jos Buttler‘s absences are presenting something of a void for Morgan to combat. But in the knowledge England were in a similar postion in the Test series – 1-0 down after defeat at Centurion – can the skipper replicate Joe Root‘s feat in turning the three-match series around?
Proteas look to build momentum
in contrast and enjoying a reversal of fortunes after their own series defeat, South Africa’s emphatic first ODI win was a huge fillip for a Proteas side re-invigorated under the tutelage on Quinton de Kock, who enjoyed a dream debut outing as skipper in compiling his 15th one-day ton.
Joined in easing to the their 259-run chase by Temba Bavuma‘s 98 with 2.4 overs to spare, the increasingly stubborn Rassie van der Dussen was a further plus for the hosts with the bat.
Spurred by Tabraiz Shamsi‘s three-wicket haul on his return to the order, South Africa took on a very different guise to the one taken apart by England last month under Test skipper Faf du Plessis and will now look to build momentum, moving to what would be an unassailable 2-0 advantage at Kingsmead with victory.
Riding high after taking apart the best side in world cricket, de Kock is expected to name the same XI in Durban, who will however know that the wounded Lions are bent on responding to a humbling defeat.
Weather looms in Natal
That will be the task now for Morgan’s men who mere days on from their heavy defeat, will be eager on showing their true colours at Kingsmead. However, mother nature could yet intervene, with heavy rain forecast in the area on Friday evening.
That will make the toss of even greater significance, as the threat of Duckworth-Lewis-Stern lurks under the building storm clouds in Natal. As it was the Proteas who came out on top in the coin toss in Cape Town, England’s penchant for chasing down victory was denied them and after it was de Kock who instead threw the gauntlet down to his opposite number, the pressure will be on the flip of a cent perhaps more than ever here.
The average ODI first innings total at Kingsmead is in the region of 240, and should the first team to bat reach that figure they will be confident of attaining the win.
With that said, as a potential for DLS comes into play, wickets in tact could win the day but it is unlikely to be a realistic consideration – particularly if it is the tourists striding out to the crease first.
On the flip side, if it is England who win the toss and elect to chase, the clock could then come into play. Whilst there will be quite the pressure to get the runs before the expected deluge arrives, Morgan’s men have on many occasions showed their teeth with their backs to wall, and Friday evening – should the weather hold out – may bring quite the sporting illumination.
South Africa face England in the second ODI on Friday at Kingsmead, Durban.
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