Momentum on offer in series decider
September 12, 2012, Edgbaston
Start time 6.30pm (1730GMT)
The Big Picture
Each of the series played between these two teams this season has come down to a final-match decider but, as with the Test matches, the best England can hope for is a share of the trophy. Given they needed 13 off five balls at Old Trafford to be ahead of the D/L target that is probably a position they are fortunate to be in.
The Nine9 in Manchester was a hectic affair: batsmen swinging from the hip, the ball skewing off edges, fielders slipping on a wet outfield, a couple of wonderful catches, another England drop and some impressive quick bowling. On balance it is South Africa who still hold an edge, particularly with the strength of their batting, which is in sharp contrast to the problems England have.
It was instructive to watch Hashim Amla's approach to what was basically a slog-fest. He barely slogged. Sure, he tried to hit the ball hard, and occasionally lost his shape, but his boundaries were well-timed, well-placed shots and not just the wild hacks attempted by Craig Kieswetter, Alex Hales and Luke Wright.
Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn were a handful on a lively pitch - unlike what is expected in Sri Lanka - while most of England's bowlers performed well, too. Two-over spells are difficult to analyse, but Graeme Swann did not conceded a boundary and Jade Dernbach just the one.
For both sides this is their final outing before departing for the subcontinent and whoever wins will feel they can take a little bit of momentum and confidence - although it is difficult to gauge much from either camp with no players having spoken for three days. But whatever happens at Edgbaston it won't count for much when the World Twenty20 starts.
(Most recent first, completed matches)
South Africa WWWWL
Watch out for
Jade Dernbach is a bowler to watch with an open mind. When it goes wrong it can get very ugly but he has a unique set of skills that can make him a match-winner. He took wickets at Chester-le-Street but was expensive, then two overs at Old Trafford cost just 12 runs. On the slow pitches in Sri Lanka his ability to bowl yorkers and slower balls will be invaluable. However, it will not always go to plan.
Dale Steyn has bowled beautifully since returning to the side midway through the one-day series, with a combination pace, control and swing. He had a wry smile on his face at Old Trafford when Alex Hales outside edged him for six over third man. With South Africa keen to manage Steyn's workload he has not always been a regular in the T20 side - playing 23 matches - but bowling like he is, makes the attack formidable.
The indications are that England are settling on their main bowling attack having played the same combination in both matches, supplemented by Luke Wright in place of Ravi Bopara in Manchester, although they may yet decide to tinker when they get to Sri Lanka. Michael Lumb, Danny Briggs and Tim Bresnan are the three of the World Twenty20 squad yet to play.
England (possible) 1 Craig Kieswetter (wk), 2 Alex Hales, 3 Luke Wright, 4 Eoin Morgan, 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Jos Buttler, 7 Samit Patel, 8 Graeme Swann, 9 Stuart Broad (capt), 10 Steven Finn, 11 Jade Dernbach
Earlier in the series, AB de Villiers indicated he would like to give all his players a game at some point, which would mean bringing Wayne Parnell and Farhaan Behardien into the side - but they will also want to win the series.
South Africa (possible) 1 Richard Levi, 2, Hashim Amla, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 AB de Villiers (capt & wk), 5 JP Duminy, 6 Farhaan Behardien, 7 Albie Morkel, 8 Johan Botha, 9 Robin Peterson, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Morne Morkel
Pitch and conditions
Edgbaston has suffered as much as anywhere from all the rain this season and the forecast suggests a risk of interruptions. When players did get on the pitch for a full Friends Life t20 innings, scores ranged from 149 to 173, which is ideal for the format.
Stats and trivia
- If England level the series they will jump above South Africa to the No. 1 spot in the Twenty20 rankings
- Graeme Swann became England's leading T20 wicket-taker when he clung on to the caught-and-bowled to remove JP Duminy in the second game
- England have not played a Twenty20 international at Edgbaston
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo