Proteas vs England: Five key head-to-head clashes
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Dubai - England and South Africa have played each other quite frequently over the last couple of years, but as they say in the classics familiarity can breed contempt.
South Africa, especially, still feel a bit aggrieved with the fact that the English left in the middle of a tour last November due to Covid-19 complications, despite both tests proven to be false negatives.
This all sets it up for a blockbuster encounter at Sharjah, with South Africa particularly having it all to play for. IOL Sport’s correspondent in the UAE, Zaahier Adams, profiles five head-to-head clashes that could determine the result.
1. Keshav Maharaj v Jason Roy
England enjoy bullying the Powerplay with Roy, in particular, playing the role of the aggressor. The South African-born opener has a free licence to attack the new-ball bowlers. He will still have fond memories of despatching both Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn in a record-run chase in Mumbai at the last T20 World Cup. Former Proteas captain Faf du Plessis, though, pulled a rabbit out of the hat in the 2019 World Cup opener at The Oval when he unleashed Imran Tahir at Roy and the leg-spinner enjoyed immediate success. Expect Temba Bavuma to adopt a similar plan with Keshav Maharaj and there’s no doubt the wily left-armer will be up for the task.
2. Kagiso Rabada v Jos Buttler
Both these global superstars have their tails up after Player of the Match performances in previous matches. Buttler was in supreme form against Sri Lanka where he struck the first century of the tournament, while Rabada ripped through Bangladesh’s top-order in Abu Dhabi. The duo have become fairly well acquainted over the years, having enjoyed many a battle in the Indian Premier League. The winner of this riveting contest could decide the match.
3. Anrich Nortje v Eoin Morgan
The England skipper does not enjoy anything above knee height and Nortje is sure to test Morgan with a couple of rip-snorting bouncers. The Uitenhage Express has built up a steady head of steam here at this T20 World Cup, which has seen him rocket up the ICC T20 world rankings. Morgan only knows one mode of playing, though, and will no doubt look to counter-attack by backing away towards leg-stump before throwing the willow at it.
4. Quinton de Kock v Moeen Ali
De Kock has not delivered anything of substance on the field yet, and will dearly want to show that the #Kneegate issue that engulfed the team last week has been laid to rest with a commanding performance against England. Moeen, though, has been on the money upfront for England in the Powerplay and he would have taken note of the way De Kock was dismissed against Bangladesh when he was deceived by the off-spinner.
5. Tabraiz Shamsi v Dawid Malan
Both have occupied the No 1 global ranking in their respective disciplines until just very recently, having been pushed down to second during this tournament. Therefore, both Shamsi (with the ball) and Malan (with the bat) will be looking to put in a big performance in this high-profile game to elevate them back to their lofty status. With this being South Africa’s first day-night game, and not having experienced the dew factor, it will be a challenge for Shamsi to control the ball which could work in Malan’s favour.