South Africa’s chances of making it to the semi-finals of the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 lie in their own hands when they take on England in their last group match. The two sides will clash in a Group 1 fixture at Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Saturday.
England have almost sealed their place in the semi-finals with four dominant victories and only a miraculous turn of events can knock them out. They currently sit at the top of the table in Group 1 with eight points and a net run-rate of +3.183.
The Three Lions have dominated the group, starting with a win over the Windies with 70 balls to spare. They followed it up by defeating Bangladesh and Australia with 5.5 and 8.2 overs remaining. England got to bat first in the last game against Sri Lanka, where they scored 163/4 and won by 26 runs.
South Africa have performed exceedingly well in the tournament, claiming three victories from four matches, but their net run-rate of +0.742 is lesser than Australia’s. SA lost their first game against them by five wickets but bounced back to defeat West Indies by eight wickets and Sri Lanka by four wickets. They skittled Bangladesh for 84 and chased it with 6.3 overs to spare.
With Australia playing the Saturday afternoon game, South Africa and just in case England will know the exact equation needed to qualify.
Arguably the best batter in white ball cricket, Jos Buttler has a sensational record in international T20s since moving up the order, with 1089 runs from 26 innings at an average of 60.5 while scoring at 149. Buttler averages over 120 in the last seven innings and is coming off 71* off 32 and 101* off 67 against Australia and Sri Lanka, respectively.
Adil Rashid has been an integral part of England’s limited overs attack in the last few years. He has produced impactful performances time and again for England in T20 cricket, claiming 72 wickets from 63 matches at 7.34 runs per over, including two four-wicket hauls. Rashid has been in great form, picking 17 scalps in the last nine games. In the ongoing World Cup, he has taken 7 wickets, including career-best 4 for 2 against West Indies.
Tabraiz Shamsi has broken into the club of top tier T20 spinners with consistent performances over the last couple of years. His left-arm angle, control and variations make him a difficult bowler to deal with.
The world no. 2 ranked bowler has picked 34 wickets from 21 games this year at an outstanding average of 13.44, with the best of 4/25. Shamsi has been very good for South Africa in the WC as well and is coming off 3/17 and 2/21 in the last two games.
Blessed with sumptuous strokeplay, Aiden Markram has evolved immensely as a T20 player in recent times. The right hand batter has been outstanding for South Africa this year, having smashed 518 runs in 15 innings at an average nearly 40 while striking at 145. He scored 40 off 36 against Australia in the first game and followed it up with a terrific 51* off 26 against the West Indies.
The head to head record between these two sides suggests they share a competitive rivalry. Out of 21 matches, England lead the scoreline by 11 victories to 9. They have also won the last five clashes.
England have a strong batting line-up with openers Jos Buttler and Jason Roy in great form. Captain Eoin Morgan getting back among runs is also a positive sign for them. The bowling department has done an excellent job so far, but with Mark Wood doubtful and Tymal Mills out of the tournament, it can be vulnerable.
The South African bowling unit has been superb throughout the tournament, with both pacers and spinners doing well. The batting unit, on the other hand, has been lacklustre, with the exception of Aiden Markram. They will need to fire collectively to beat the English team, who will walk into the game as favourites.