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Battle of T20 power houses as England take on South Africa

The two heavy-weights of T20 cricket are all set to clash in an important super-eight fixture. After a shaky start to the tournament, things have settled down for England, whereas South Africa have been constantly brilliant throughout their campaign so far. The Proteas remain unbeaten at the tournament and have won matches when both batting or bowling first, however, this next fixture against England might just be their toughest task.

England had a nervy start to their World Cup campaign. Their opening game against Scotland was abandoned due to rain not before Scotland put on a good show with the bat. Jos Buttler’s men got crushed by Australia which left their fate of qualifying to the super-eights at the hands of the Aussies. Australia were able to defeat Scotland ensuring England’s spot in the super-eights.

South Africa are unbeaten so far in the tournament but haven’t been perfect as far as the performances are concerned. They had to grind for victory chasing a low total against the Netherlands and had to fight till the last delivery of the match to beat Nepal. Now they would be up against a fiery fast-bowling attack of England with Jofra Archer and Mark Wood rearing to go. It will be a challenge Markram and his men haven’t come across yet.

The Proteas will be looking to counter the fast-bowling threat of Jofra Archer with Anrich Nortje, one of the same kind. Nortje equaled the record held by Dale Steyn of most wickets at the World Cup for South Africa and has been in terrafic form. He is also the second-highest wicket-taker of the tournament.

England are coming into this match after a comfortable victory against the hosts West Indies, but the gap in consecutive games is short, and that could mean some due rest for Mark Wood with Chris Jordan being the obvious replacement. Sam Curran could also be preferred over Will Jacks, who has been struggling to convert his aggressive starts into meaningful runs in his last two outings against Oman and Australia.

South Africa benched their fast bowler Ottneil Baartman to accommodate an extra spinner in Antigua. A similar strategy could work for them in St Lucia too, but, Tabraiz Shamsi’s expensive outing in the last game against the USA might force Markram to replace him with left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin. However, given the vibration Baartman offers, he can make a return to the playing XI.

Gros Islet has offered loads of runs for the batters in the first innings with an average score of 187. However, it hasn’t been always easy. There has been good bounce and carry off the pitch along with considerable assistance for the spinners, which was evident in the game between England and West Indies when England came back in the game due to their spinners. This will be the first game in St Lucia scheduled to be played at night hence the conditions might be a bit different than what we have seen so far. As far as the weather forecast is concerned, rain is predicted over the weekend, but it is expected to stay dry on Friday.