ENG vs SA, T20 World Cup 2024: England and South Africa lock horns after contrasting wins in Super 8 openers

Having advanced to the Super 8s by edging out Scotland on net run-rate, England took a significant step towards the 2024 T20 World Cup semifinals with a convincing eight-wicket victory over co-host West Indies at the Daren Sammy ground on Wednesday night. Jos Buttler’s squad is set to face South Africa at the same venue on Friday, knowing that a win will virtually secure its place in the last four.

One of the key takeaways from England’s recent win is the form of Jonny Bairstow, who scored an unbeaten 48 off 26 balls, helping England significantly improve its net run-rate. He added 97 off 44 balls with Phil Salt to see England home with eight wickets and 2.3 overs to spare.

England’s spinners, Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali, were equally instrumental in restricting a formidable West Indies batting line-up on a high-scoring pitch.

Rashid will be crucial again against a South African batting order that features only two left-handers in the top seven. In contrast to England, South Africa arrives in St. Lucia after a narrow escape against the USA, winning by just 18 runs in Antigua.

Quinton de Kock’s 74 off 40 balls and Kagiso Rabada’s 3 for 18 against USA bode well for South Africa. Rabada played the last match at the expense of the in-form Ottneil Baartman, as captain Aiden Markram opted for two specialist spinners, left-am wristspinner Tabraiz Shamsi and slow left-arm orthodox Keshav Maharaj. Given England’s tendency to exploit the flexibility that right-hand/left-hand pairings provide on a ground with a significantly shorter square boundary, South Africa might stick with the same bowling combination.

Meanwhile, England will have its task cut out in death bowling, especially considering Tristan Stubbs’ staggering strike rate of 297.33 at the death in IPL 2024 and Heinrich Klaasen’s equally formidable strike rate of 238.02. But Buttler’s men will take heart from the fact that Jofra Archer conceded only four runs from the 16th over against West Indies, and Rashid just two from the 17th.

Another run fest is on the cards as the race for the semifinals heats up.

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