South Africa Vs England
Starting Time: 9:30 am IST
Chennai: March 5: Why would South Africa seek to redeem themselves against England? After all, the side from the Rainbow Nation has already notched up two resounding victories in the World Cup 2011 and appear title favourites.
Well, the fact of the matter is that since May 2007, they have won just one encounter against these opponents and have lost 7 games against them. Indeed, England has claimed victory in a series at home 4-0, a series in South Africa 2-1 and a one-off ODI match in between.
But England's last win versus the Proteas came back in Nov 2009. Since then, the South Africans have gone from strength to strength and have struck upon a very balanced side whose efficacy has only been augmented with the inclusion of an X-factor in leg-spinner Imran Tahir. The leg-break announced his arrival in this World Cup with an emphatic 4/41 against the West Indies last week and followed it up with a 3/19 against the Netherlands.
So far, England have manouevered around the threat of the South African bowlers expertly, especially going by the statisticss of their last two series against them. In England's home series of Aug-Sept 2008, Jacques Kallis was the most effective South African bowler, but his 4 wickets from 5 matches at an average of 22.75 was overshadowed by the performance of his English counterparts Andrew Flintoff (10 wickets at 12.90) and Stuart Broad (8 wickets at 18.12). Of course, England may sorely miss the Flintoff edge as he was top the run-scorer in that series as well!
Then in the Nov 2009 series in South Africa, James Anderson (with 8 wickets from 3 matches at 17.25) and Stuart Broad (with 6 wickets at 16.83) trumped South Africa's best bowler Wayne Parnell (5 scalps from 2 matches) who is anyway not even in the South African World Cup 2011 squad. Broad, who had a poor last game against Ireland where he went wicketkless for 73 runs in 9 overs, may be eager to regain his midas touch against the Proteas. After all, he has been England's most consistent bowler against the South Africans.
Other English batsmen that bear good track records against South Africa are Paul Collingwood, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior, while Strauss, who appears to be in the form of his life in this World Cup (with an average of 93.33), can't be ignored either.
For the Proteas, Hashim Amla and A B de Villiers stand out as the most prosperous batsmen against England. They averaged 51.33 and 48.33 respectively, in South Africa's home series against the opposition and the latter batsman appears to be going great guns, coming off his match-winning 107 not out against the Windies last week and a blazing 134 off 98 balls against the Netherlands, on Thursday.
It will be interesting to see if Proteas pace bowler Dale Steyn, who took 3/24 in that match, will be able to unsettle the English batsmen at all. With a Chepauk pitch favouring the batsmen, this match hinges on the batsmen's showing and the team that exploits conditions better will naturally win.