New-look England odds-on to beat South Africa in opening T20
After failing to win the ICC Champions Trophy, England have their first chance to regain some momentum versus South Africa.
Eoin Morgan’s side will face the Proteas over three T20 contests throughout the next week, ahead of a four-Test series across the summer.
The first T20 takes place at Southampton’s Rose Bowl, and England are 8/13 favourites.
South Africa go into it as 11/10 outsiders.
And we should be in for some thrilling white-ball action, with quality aplenty on both sides.
Morgan has made several changes to his squad, meaning there is no Joe Root, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes or Jake Ball.
But England still boast big-hitters such as Alex Hales, Jason Roy, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow.
Roy was dropped for the Champions Trophy semi-final, but he didn’t appear fazed by it, knocking a fine 92 of 81 balls for Surrey last week.
The 26-year-old is 7/2 to be England’s top runscorer, just behind favourite Hales at 3/1.
It’s 4/1 Buttler top-scores for the hosts, with 5/1 apiece on offer for Bairstow or captain Morgan.
South Africa’s main threat will come from a certain AB de Villiers.
It was only 16 months ago that the 33-year-old hit a stupendous 71 off 29 balls against England, and he’s 11/4 favourite to be the tourists’ highest runscorer.
This is far from South Africa’s strongest batting line-up though, and England may be relieved that there is no Hashim Amla or Quinton de Kock.
JP Duminy and Faf du Pleisses are also absent.
But they do boast a frightening array of bowlers, and that’s where the danger lies.
Imram Tahi is ranked number one in the world with the ball in this format, and yet at 11/4 he’s only fourth-favourite to take the most wickets for the South Africans.
Morgan and co will also be up against veteran Morne Morkel, plus Chris Morris and Dwaine Pretorious.
Can England’s batters do the business against some of the best bowlers going? We should be in for a cracking trio of T20s.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing