England target opening trophy
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Start time 14.30 (12.30GMT)
A highveld thunderstorm put paid to a potentially gripping finish to the opening Twenty20 but the action before the rain was still thoroughly entertaining in ideal conditions for quick scoring. With Albie Morkel and AB de Villiers in the middle, South Africa would still have fancied their chances of chasing down more than 10-an-over to win, while England's bowlers were clawing back their figures are severe punishment from Loots Bosman.
Not that England were short on boundaries. Eoin Morgan gave another display of his huge talent and Paul Collingwood showed there is plenty of life in the old(ish) dog yet. The tourists' new-found freedom in limited-overs cricket is certainly the way forward. There will be days when it fails spectacularly, but as they learn how to adapt their aggression to conditions it will serve them well.
So South Africa are left needing to win the second Twenty20 to square the series and finish the first phase of this long head-to-head on even terms. They will want to sharpen their bowling skills after they tended to feed Morgan's leg-side strength, but Centurion should offer more high-scoring conditions. The main concern for England is the number of niggles the players are already picking up with James Anderson and Graeme Swann missing training along with Collingwood.
With this being a day-game, it will hopefully mean that the full match is possible before any evening thunderstorms bubble up. However, it's always worthwhile to keep the D-L sheets to hand.
Form guide(last five completed matches, most recent first)
South Africa - LLWWW
England - WLWLW
If South Africa stick to their pre-series talk of giving all the squad a game it means some shuffling of the pack. Heino Kuhn is in line for a debut - Mark Boucher could be rested - while Jacques Kallis will return, although purely as a batsman, and Yusuf Abdulla, the left-arm seamer, is another pace option.
South Africa (possible) 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Loots Bosman, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 JP Duminy, 5 Albie Morkel, 6 Heino Kuhn (wk), 7 Ryan McLaren, 8 Roelof van der Merwe, 9 Johan Botha, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Yusuf Abdulla
England are carrying a number of players with minor niggles. Collingwood (back), Anderson (knee) and Swann (side) all missed training as a precaution and face morning fitness tests ahead of the game. With Stuart Broad still recovering from his shoulder injury, Kevin Pietersen not due to return until Tuesday and Andrew Strauss opting out of Twenty20 the squad could be stretched. Adil Rashid and Graham Onions are the two players who didn't appear in the opening match.
England (possible) 1 Joe Denly, 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Paul Collingwood (capt), 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Matt Prior (wk), 7 Luke Wright, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Sajid Mahmood, 11 James Anderson
Watch out for
Dale Steyn took a bit of a hammering on Friday, firstly at the hands of Trott, who took him for four consecutive boundaries, then from Morgan's onslaught. It is still early-season for Steyn, but he doesn't appear quite on top of his game. However, it would be foolish to read too much into his form so far and it won't take a lot for him to turn it around. He'll want to make a mark ahead of the contests to come and his record shows a match-winning performance is not far away.
England have found something a little special in Morgan - and he likes facing South Africa. His thrilling effort at the Wanderers followed on from his display at the Champions Trophy, when he helped knock out the hosts. England's batsmen have been criticised for their lack of sixes, but Morgan is quickly putting that right and one blow in the first match landed comfortably outside the ground.
Stats and trivia
- Joe Denly has been dismissed first ball in both his Twenty20 international innings after being trapped leg before by Charl Langeveldt at the Wanderers to following his golden duck at the hands of Brett Lee at Old Trafford.
- England's 202 for 6 was their highest Twenty20 total while Morgan's 85 was also their best individual effort.
"It was just that the wicket happened to be good and I didn't think he bowled particularly well. We don't target any bowlers at all."
Morgan said there was no team plan to go after Steyn after South Africa's leading bowler went for 40 in four overs.
"From my perspective, it's a realisation that it is going to be a tough series, it's going to be good and exciting - England have come here to play."
Graeme Smith won't be taking the summer's challenge lightly
Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo