England batting vs South Africa bowling in shootout for semi-finals

England vs South Africa (Image: ICC)

This game, in all likelihood, will decide who becomes the first to qualify for the semi-finals from this Super Eights group. England and South Africa have both won their first matches in this stage of the T20 World Cup. Whoever prevails in this one in Gros Islet will make the cut barring major upsets.

St Lucia, the island where this match will take place, is the place of the in-laws of boxing legend George Foreman. Make no mistake, there will be some heavy sparring on the field when the defending champions lock horns against the underachievers. England brushed aside the West Indies, while South Africa were less convincing in their win against the USA.

But those differences will count for little when they go at each other at the Daren Sammy Stadium. On paper, it looks like a confrontation between England’s batting and South Africa’s attack. Jos Buttler’s team made an emphatic statement of their batting might in the crushing defeat of the home team. Aiden Markram’s side got their act with the ball right just when it mattered against the co-hosts.

Phil Salt and Jonny Bairstow killed the West Indies attack. They have a lot more firepower in Buttler, Harry Brook, Liam Livingstone and Moeen Ali. The hallmark of their triumph in 2022 was explosive batting. After a disappointing campaign in the 50-over World Cup last year, they seem to be getting back into that old groove again. That kind of hitting ability throughout the innings is a massive plus.

South Africa have the resources to stall this. It’s a versatile attack, which ticks all the boxes. There is left and right-arm pace, and a rare combination of left-arm finger and wrist spin. And all of them are proven performers. Kagiso Rabada is the leader of this pack, but the likes of Anrich Nortje and Keshav Maharaj are not far behind for what they bring to the table.

The Proteas are no pushovers in batting either, even though they may not possess the kind of ammunition England do deeper down the order. Quinton de Kock is back among the runs and Heinrich Klaasen is a threat to any side in the world. Throw in a Markram or a David Miller and if two of the four click, it can be quite handy in a 20-over game.

Now, England also have a very potent weapon in their hands. Jofra Archer is back and looking hungry to make up for the time he has lost due to injury. In the region of his origin or anywhere else, he possesses what it takes to damage reputations. There is no doubt that he will be extra motivated to prove a point. This, and the other factors, promise a fascinating contest.

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Match details

England vs South Africa, Gros Islet (St Lucia), 8 pm IST

Playing XIs

England (likely XI): Phil Salt, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Harry Brook, Liam Livingstone, Sam Curran, Jofra Archer, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood, Reece Topley.

South Africa (likely XI): Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Heinrich Klaasen, Tristan Stubbs, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi.