England face uncertainty ahead of ICC World Twenty20 in India
Simon Sinclair | February 22, 2016
England were given a harsh lesson by South Africa during their crushing nine-wicket defeat in the second Twenty20 international in Johannesburg as the Proteas clinched the series.
The tourists were looking to tie the series having lost on the last ball of the first match following Reece Topley’s missed run-out opportunity in Cape Town.
Skipper Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler looked to have put England in a strong position at 157-3 in the 17th over, but the dismissal of the latter sparked a collapse as the tourists lost their last seven wickets for just 14 runs.
AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla smelled blood in the water and took apart the England bowlers, with both players notching half-centuries and guiding their side to a comfortable victory with five overs to spare.
As a result, Morgan and co have a lot to think about with the World Twenty20 under a month away.
England struggled to find consistency from their batsmen in the final five matches of the tour of South Africa, which led to the inclusion of Sam Billings at The Wanderers.
Jason Roy has been the main weakness in the lineup throughout the ODI and T20 series’ with his highest knock totalling 48, while he failed to pass 25 in his other six innings.
The 25-year-old’s form will be a huge concern to Trevor Bayliss and the England coaching staff, which may prompt them to promote James Vince to open the innings alongside Alex Hales, although elevating Joe Root could also be an option.
Hales displayed his pedigree throughout the one-day series by making four half-centuries on the spin before notching three figures in the fifth ODI in Cape Town.
He failed to pass fifty in the Twenty20s, but will be full of confidence heading into the World Cup and is backed at 7/2 with Coral to be England’s highest run scorer in the competition.
Meanwhile, Buttler was at his best at The Wanderers before being dismissed by a fine low catch from Faf du Plessis.
The Lancashire wicketkeeper has become England’s wildcard in the middle order and has often been moved around the lineup depending on the situation.
His ability to clear the boundary with regularity makes him an intriguing prospect to be England’s top man in India, especially his proven quality against spin.
At 13/2, Buttler is well worth a shout to be his side’s leading batsman, while ever-consistent Root is the favourite to rack up the runs at 3/1.
Will Rashid and Ali rise to occasion?
Moeen Ali had the worst tour of his England career in South Africa as he failed to make an impact with bat or ball.
However, Ali has the perfect chance to respond by producing in India on favourable pitches for his off-spin bowling.
England will be relying on him to take advantages of conditions to ease the pressure on their inexperienced pace attack along with Adil Rashid, who fared well in the T20s against the Proteas.
Rashid is backed at 4/1 to lead the way for England, while Ali is an outside bet at 6/1.
Steven Finn should be fit to return to action to ease England’s problems with their pace attack.
Morgan’s men lacked experience as Topley, David Willey and Chris Jordan all struggled to cope with the potent play of De Villiers and Amla.
Finn has enjoyed resurgence in his career over the past year and will look at the World Cup as the opportunity to raise his game to the next level. The 26-year-old is good bet at 4/1 to be the leading wicket taker for Morgan’s men.
England are the fourth-favourites to win the competition at 6/1 (9/4 to top Group 1), but will face a difficult challenge in their pool matches.
Holders Sri Lanka, West Indies and South Africa stand in their way of advancing to the semi-finals, meaning Morgan and his side will have to be at their best from the off.
Their problems against the Proteas were fixable and the players have proven that there is more than enough talent in the squad to claim the title.
Root, Buttler, Morgan and Ben Stokes are proven match-winners and will be the thorn in the side of opposing teams due to their dynamic play at the crease.
However, England’s lack of a quality spin option could play a pivotal role in deciding their fate, one which could stop them from winning the competition for a second time.