England’s win over South Africa at Lords on Sunday means that Alastair Cook’s men have an unassailable, 2-1 lead in this five match series. With the first game at Cardiff ruined by the weather, the visitors can only draw level at Trent Bridge this Wednesday (1.30pm). It will also result in England finishing 2012 as the No.1 ranked side in ODI cricket.
Despite back-to-back wins for the home team, the bookmakers are undecided as to whether to make them favourites and some are even offering the same price on either side to win this final contest.
Once again, it was a mixture of tight bowling and poor shot selection from the batsmen that helped England to restrict the tourists to a below par total of 220 at Lords. While the fielding and in particular the catching left areas for concern, the attack kept the tourists in check and left the England batting line up to chase down a modest target of 4.5 per over for the win.
England may be slight favourites here but the key to victory in this third game is to play to those strengths once again. On a helpful pitch in September, the toss could also be crucial and it seems certain that whoever calls correctly will insert the opposition.
After a nervous end to the previous game at the Oval, England’s batsmen made it look more comfortable at Lords as the Warwickshire duo of Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott put on a stand of 141 after the early loss of Ian Bell.
Trott has played a vital role in both of his side’s wins but he now gives England an injury concern ahead of this final encounter after taking a blow on the hand from Dale Steyn early in his innings. Trott stubbornly carried on as he played through the pain barrier and his stubborn nature means that he will try to take his place at Trent Bridge if he possibly can.
As yet, there is no news of the scan on that injured hand but this could finally give an opportunity for England to recall Jonny Bairstow at Trott’s expense. Elsewhere, it could be an unchanged side after Craig Kieswetter answered his critics by becoming the first English wicket keeper to take three stumpings in an ODI.
South Africa are also likely to recall Morne Morkel as their attack struggled to show any penetration. The selectors have, until now, been reluctant to make any changes in their batting line up but with Faf Du Plessis struggling throughout this series, the tourists may well have to consider other options.
This is a tough game to predict and while form and momentum are firmly with Alastair Cook’s men, the toss could be so crucial on Wednesday. The team that wins it and inserts the opposition could have the advantage and it would be no surprise if this under-achieving South African side bounce back in style.
Betting Tip: South Africa to win at even money with Stan James Bookmaker.