Slick South Africa confident of sealing series at Old Trafford
One could forgive England’s cricketers for being sick of the sight of their South African counterparts this summer.
Not content with unseating them from the top of Test cricket, the tied One Day series suggested England’s status at the top of those rankings could well be a false one, while the hosts’ heavy loss in the opening Twenty20 tie in Durham on Saturday showed why the Proteas already top the list in that department.
England face the South Africans again on Monday at Old Trafford, and such was the dominance of AB De Villiers’ side that they’re priced at 8/11 favourites to seal another win and claim the series in the process.
The imperious Jacques Kallis was once again his side’s top scorer with 48 from 44 balls, as South Africa won with seven wickets and one over to go – a veritable thrashing in this form of the game.
At the ripe age of 36, Kallis remains South Africa’s premier batsman in all forms of the game, and it’s hard to look past him again when picking out a likely South African top run scorer – Kallis is 7/2 second favourite after the man of the summer, Hashim Amla, 3/1.
England will face their opponents one final time on Wednesday at Edgbaston before captain Stuart Broad leads them to Sri Lanka the following day to begin their World Cup preparations.
England are the reigning champions, having defeated Australia in the final back in 2010, but their chances of repeating this feat (they’re 6/1 to retain their T20 title) look slim if their defeat in Durham is anything to go by.
They lost four wickets to spin on Saturday, with their batsman struggling to read the left arm spin of Robin Peterson and the right arm off break offered by Johan Botha – who claimed two wickets each.
The Riverside wicket is nothing compared to those the English batsmen will have to quickly acclimatise to in Sri Lanka, where spinners such as Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal, Sri Lanka’s Ajantha Mendis and India’s Harbhajan Singh are likely to dominate.
Graham Swann remains atop of the Twenty20 rankings for best bowler, but with question marks remaining over the mentality and experience of an England batting line-up missing a certain Kevin Pietersen, an effective bowling attack alone will not guarantee success.
With England drawn with a plucky but limited Afghanistan side in their opening group, they shouldn’t have any issues making it through to the Super Eight stage.
But after that, while Stuart Broad might insist otherwise, sixth favourites England will struggle to make it to the semi-finals, never mind repeat their success of two years ago in the West Indies.
While India (9/2), and Sri Lanka (5/1) remain the favourites, after such a slick display of bowling potency and ruthless batting, third favourites South Africa are well priced at 11/2 to claim their first World Cup title.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.