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The Preview by Alan Gardner
August 27, 2012
August 28, West End
Start time 1pm (1200GMT)
The Big Picture
Persistent rainfall in Cardiff limited the action to just 33 legitimate deliveries in the first ODI, as England retained their No. 1 ranking by virtue of a no-result. In that short window, however, Ian Bell managed to hit Morne Morkel for sixes over midwicket and long-off, racing to one of the most classy (if pointless) 26 not outs you're likely to see. He only faced 18 deliveries in the mid-afternoon murk but it was enough to re-emphasise why England are happy with their post-Kevin Pietersen one-day set-up.
The proposition remains the same for the second match of the series, with a win for South Africa enough to depose England at the top of the rankings. Conceivably, the No. 1 tag could be handed back and forth in Chuckle Brothers style ("To me, to you") over the course of the next week and a bit, though England may hope that a return to the sort of damp, overcast conditions that provided the backdrop to their 4-0 win over Australia will aid their pursuit of a fourth consecutive ODI series victory in 2012.
Under AB de Villiers, South Africa have won six from eight ODIs, beating Sri Lanka 3-2 at home (losing only the two dead games) and then claiming a 3-0 whitewash in New Zealand. Few of the current squad have played at Hampshire's West End ground before, though they did manage a visit to nearby St Mary's for Southampton's Premier League match against Wigan at the weekend and may take inspiration from the visitors' 2-0 victory. At the very least, their warm-up games of football should show some improvement.
Form guide(Most recent first, completed matches)
South Africa WWWLL
Watch out for...
Steven Finn has taken 23 ODI wickets at 15.91 in 2012, at a better strike-rate than any other bowler in the world with ten or more dismissals to their name. His fiery spell on day four of the third Test evoked the consistent hostility of Finn's recent one-day bowling, which appears to have improved his discipline and economy. A comparison with Lonwabo Tsotsobe, the only fast bowler currently ranked above him, should be interesting.
There are few bigger holes to fill in world cricket than that left by the rested Jacques Kallis. Dean Elgar made his South Africa debut in the first ODI, though it was limited to trudging around a wet outfield, and the 25-year-old should have a more extended chance to impress while filling in for Kallis at No. 3 this time around. Elgar won the domestic one-day cricketer of the year award in 2011-12 and his slow left-arm spin could come in useful if the pitch offers turn.
Despite Jonny Bairstow's T20 pyrotechnics, England seem unlikely to ditch Ravi Bopara, who returned to the side at Cardiff after time off for personal issues. Bopara's form is a question mark, however, and he was released to get some batting practice for Essex in the CB40 today. Samit Patel may return at the expense of Chris Woakes if England want a second spin option.
England (possible) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Ian Bell, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Ravi Bopara, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Craig Kieswetter (wk), 7 Samit Patel/Chris Woakes, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 James Anderson, 11 Steven Finn
Albie Morkel and Dale Steyn missed out on the brief skirmish at Cardiff due to minor injuries and neither is expected to play on Tuesday, though both should be fit for World Twenty20. South Africa could call on Imran Tahir after more than a year out of the one-day side.
South Africa (possible) 1 Graeme Smith, 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Dean Elgar, 4 AB de Villiers (capt & wk), 5 JP Duminy, 6 Faf du Plessis, 7 Ryan McLaren, 9 Wayne Parnell, 8 Robin Petersen, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe
Pitch and conditions
On Twenty20 Finals Day in Cardiff, where the first ODI was rained off 24 hours earlier, Hampshire were presented with a familiar slow, low surface on which they duly prevailed. A similar track is perhaps to be expected at West End, though England made 288 against West Indies at the ground earlier this summer and with a bright, clear forecast, batsmen shouldn't fare too badly. De Villiers has consulted Hampshire's former South Africa international Neil McKenzie and he advised the touring party to expect the pitch to spin.
Stats and trivia
"The guys who have come in and replaced him have done particularly well. Whoever has stepped up has done really, really well."
Eoin Morgan is the latest England player to field the KP question
"David has a bright future ahead of him and I look forward to playing with him one day, but we have just got quite a lot [of destructive batsman]."
Faf du Plessis on another Pietermaritzburg native left out for this series, David Miller
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Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the 4th ODI between England and India at Edgbaston