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September 26, 2009
Match factsSunday, September 27, 2009
Well, who'd have thought it? England, their chances written off - or even laughed off in some cases - announced themselves at the ICC Champions Trophy with a smooth six-wicket victory against the previously impressive Sri Lanka. How would they counter their first meeting with Ajantha Mendis? Leave him wicketless. How would they quell a flamboyant Sri Lanka top order? Take them out for 17 runs. How would they repel an old foe in Muttiah Muralitharan? Take him for 60 runs in 10 overs. Easy, this one-day lark.
What makes England's unexpected success more notable is that their next opponents, South Africa, were efficiently dismantled by Sri Lanka in the opening match of the tournament. However, as Andrew Strauss said, now is not the time to be getting carried away. One win does not make an international trophy.
England will be disappointed to leave the Wanderers behind for this match after encountering a surface that suited their pace-heavy attack perfectly. James Anderson and Graham Onions exploited helpful conditions, but runs have been slightly easier to come by at Centurion so the attack should be tested. They will need to tighten up on wides - 21 was far too many against Sri Lanka - while some of the middle-innings bowling verged on the brainless. South Africa, after a slow start to their season, are finding their stride and will punish any looseness.
The hosts sharpened their game against New Zealand to get their campaign back on track. Wayne Parnell claimed five wickets and AB de Villiers looked in ominous form. This will be the first of many meetings between the two sides over the next few months; in November England return for a full Test and one-day tour. In the present, though, it's all about reaching the semi-finals of this tournament and South Africa can't afford any more slips. It's a pressure game for Graeme Smith's team, and pressure can do funny things to South Africa.
England: (probable) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Joe Denly, 3 Owais Shah, 4 Paul Collingwood, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Matt Prior (wk), 7 Luke Wright, 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 James Anderson, 11 Graham Onions.
South Africa know their best one-day team and generally stick with it. Herschelle Gibbs has been passed fit for selection and should slot back in alongside Smith. How England combat the 20 overs of spin from Johan Botha and Roelof van der Merwe will be vital, while Dale Steyn will want to lay some early makers for battles ahead.
South Africa: (probable) 1 Graeme Smith, 2 Herschelle Gibbs, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 AB de Villiers, 5 JP Duminy, 6 Mark Boucher (wk), 7 Albie Morkel, 8 Johan Botha, 9 Roelof van der Merwe, 10 Wayne Parnell, 11 Dale Steyn
Watch out for...
England will be seeing plenty of Wayne Parnell in the next few months. He hasn't made his Test debut yet, but the Centurion Park meeting between these teams is odds on. In the one-day side he is already a central figure where he has added a new dimension to the attack. He hasn't been at his best so far, proving expensive in both matches, but has already collected eight wickets including 5 for 57 against New Zealand.
Pitch and conditions
Stats and trivia
"They have got a very good side. They were number one in the world when the tournament began, we are down at number six. We will have to play above ourselves to beat them."
Andy Flower on the challenge facing England on Sunday.
"We have had a good record against England in the past apart from last year's series in England but we will be treating them just like we would any other side in the tournament."
AB de Villiers is calm going into a crunch game.
A look back at five high-profile exhibition matches
Bide your time, put your body behind each delivery, and play with the batsman's mind