Venue: SuperSport Park, Centurion
Date: Sunday, February 16, 2020
England has been in South Africa for over two months at this point after their opening two-day match against a Cricket South Africa Invitation XI back in the middle of December. It has been a long and fruitful tour for the visitors to date, with England taking the four-match Test series 3-1 before the ODI series of three matches saw a win for each team alongside a no contest.
The T20I series has been about as close as possible without requiring the Super Over so far, with each team picking up a win by the finest of margins. It was South Africa that took the opening clash in East London, winning by a single run as they put up 177/8 from their 20 overs before England replied with a nail-bitingly close 176/9 from their set of balls.
The second T20I was almost as close. South Africa won the toss and elected to field. They then saw England put up a score of 204/7 with Ben Stokes top scoring with 47 not out. In reply, the South Africans were able to knock 202/7 from their 20 overs. They needed three runs off of the final two balls to win the match, but instead, they lost consecutive wickets as England held on for a thrilling win.
Now the series is in the balance as we head to Centurian.
It is hard to see any drastic changes for the South Africa side as they were unlucky to lose last time out. One change that we may see is the return to the lineup of Dale Steyn at the expense of Bjorn Fortuin. Fortuin bowled just a couple of overs so he would seem to be somewhat expendable. The run economy rate of Beuran Hendricks is also likely a concern.
When it comes to the batting lineup it is the form of Quinton de Kock that has let the South Africans. He has played some imperious cricket, scoring 96 runs over the two T20I matches at a strike rate of almost 260.
England have taken the brave decision to stick with Jos Buttler at the top of the batting order for the decider in this series. There had been speculation that the opener would drop down the order as his performances in the T20I series – he has scores of just 15 and two in the opening matches – is a run on from his poor Test match form. Buttler needs a big performance here to stop whispers of Jonny Bairstow moving up to partner Jason Roy given that Roy and Bairstow have been so deadly as openers in ODI matches.
Joe Denly is another player who needs a big innings. He has been dismissed before reaching double-figures seven times in 11 T20I innings, a number not close to good enough at this level.
England are the favorites to win this match at 0.50 with BetXChange. This is a team that always seems to know how to win in key situations and they will be looking to end their tour on a high note. At 1.85 Quinton de Kock isn’t long odds to be the best South Africa batsman, but he is such amazing form that he still might be worth a flutter.