Jos Buttler
England's Jos Buttler plays a shot during the ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup cricket match against Sri Lanka at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on November 1, 2021. Image Credit: AFP

England and South Africa have traversed different routes in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. Eoin Morgan’s side have been dominant in winning the four matches, while the Proteas suffered a lone loss at the hands of Australia and have struggled to win their games.

While England have confirmed their semifinal berth, Temba Bavuma-led South Africa are battling with Australia for the other slot from Group 1. A win against England would significantly improve the Proteas’ chances, making the Sharjah encounter on Saturday spicier.

South Africa’s biggest stumbling block is England, whose form has been the envy of other contestants. The chase in the opener against the West Indies was a bit laboured, but their English bowling has blown away the opposition.

Tabraiz Shamsi
South Africa’s Tabraiz Shamsi celebrates during the second One Day International cricket match against Pakistan at the Wanderers stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, on April 4, 2021. Image Credit: AP

England spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali have been very effective in the powerplay providing early breakthroughs. Their threat remains undiminished even in the middle-overs, and Liam Livingstone’s blend of off and leg-spin has been handy. Chris Woakes’ nippy pace and bounce had been another weapon in the early overs. But Tyman Mills skiddy pace at the slog would be missed as he is out of the tournament with an injury. Chris Jordan has been excellent so far, but he could leak runs on flat wickets.

The batting has been a feature of England wins as they chased down targets. So it was interesting to see how they fare when batting. They did run into problems against Sri Lanka, managing only 43/3 in 10 overs. But that man Jos Buttler changed the game with a sublime knock. The opener grafted his way through the most challenging part before blazing away to a maiden T20 International century. Morgan provided company, and it helped him regain form. So the English batting has been buzzing.

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South Africa would love to give them a scare. They have the bowling to do it. Paceman Anrich Nortje has been dangerous throughout, and Kagiso Rabada too has come good in the game against Bangladesh. Let-arm spinners Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi have been taking wickets and seizing the initiative for the Proteas in most matches. England would have to be wary of the pair.

The batting hasn’t really worked well for South Africa, who haven’t benefited much from the powerplay. But Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen have provided stability into the middle-order, and David Miller showed his six-hitting prowess is intact against Sri Lanka in a tight finish.

South Africa need a win badly, and England aren’t pushovers. So, an exciting match is in prospect.