Tight series anticipated as newcomers take the stage

AB de Villiers toe-ends a pull to cover Getty Images

Despite selecting a much-changed squad, England remain slender favourites going into their three-match T20 series against South Africa at the Ageas Bowl this evening, as both teams seek a return to winning ways following their ignominious exits from the Champions Trophy. A 2-1 scoreline is anticipated by the odds-setters at Bet365 - a reflection, perhaps, of the uncharted waters that so many of the players are about to enter.

England have rested the likes of Joe Root and Ben Stokes, and instead have five uncapped players in their squad, all of whom are expected to make a debut at some stage in the coming three games. Liam Livingstone, one of those new caps, is the 10/1 outsider to be England's top scorer - not a bad shout if he gets, and seizes, his chance early in the series.

The favourites, however, are England's openers - Alex Hales and Jason Roy are both 10/3 to top-score in the series - with Roy's 92 from 81 balls for Surrey last week a sign that he has not allowed his dramatic loss of form in the Champions Trophy to cloud his ball-smiting skills. On the bowling front, David Willey and Liam Plunkett are both at 3/1, although keep an eye on the legspinner Mason Crane (9/2), potentially in line for a debut on his home ground.

South Africa are also missing a few familiar names, with the Test series starting next week. Quinton de Kock, Ragiso Rabada and Hashim Amla are sitting this one out, with Faf du Plessis back home in South Africa on paternal leave. AB de Villiers leads in his absence, and unsurprisingly, he is 6/4 favourite to be South Africa's top scorer, ahead of the anticipated opening pairing of JJ Smuts and Reeza Hendricks, and the heavy-hitting David Miller (4/1).