Before these games began, this was heralded as a close series and the bookmakers certainly could not pick between the two sides. Ahead of the first match at Cardiff, most outlets were pricing England and South Africa at the same odds of 10/11 to win that game and, although the tourists were slight favourites to take the series victory, the market was almost as close.
All that has changed however in the space of 100 overs as England slumped to a disappointing 80 run defeat at the Ageas bowl on Tuesday. In the first half of the game the home side’s fielding was poor and after Alastair Cook was dismissed on the second ball of the reply, the hosts never looked like chasing down a total of 287.
If they are to draw level at the Kia Oval on Friday, improvements will need to be made in all areas but could there be changes in personnel at the same time?
How Bet365 Bookmaker bets on this game:
South Africa 4/6, England 6/5.
The only change from the XI named for the first game saw left arm spinner Samit Patel brought in for Warwickshire all-rounder Chris Woakes. Patel smashed 45 at the end of the match in a losing cause and he was unlucky to have had Hashim Amla dropped by wicket keeper Craig Kieswetter in what was a pretty regulation catch.
Woakes for Patel is one option but Kieswetter could also find himself under pressure as England look for a way to bring in the in-form Jonny Bairstow. The Yorkshireman has been effective in all forms of the game recently but saw Ravi Bopara take the number four slot for the opening two matches.
Bopara was out to a lazy shot at the Ageas Bowl and could lose his place at the Oval. However, Bairstow is a capable wicket keeper and would be a good option to take over from the struggling Kieswetter.
South Africa have no problems ahead of this third match and are likely to keep the same side that won so emphatically on Tuesday. Hashim Amla was the undoubted star with a career best 150 but he was ably supported throughout the side. Graeme Smith scored 52 as he and Amla laid the early platform while the middle order just batted around the centurion to help construct the winning total of 287-5.
It’s tempting to say that Amla is the key to this match and if England get him early then they’ll have a much better chance of winning. However, if the prolific South Africa should fail, there is enough talent in that side to construct a similar total.
The weather forecast is good so it seems that Cook’s men won’t be looking at a Duckworth Lewis assisted victory in a rain shortened match. They can win it but even if they improve in all departments, this is a strong South African side that are worthy of their new status as the number one side in One Day International Cricket.