England and South Africa will face off in the first of two semifinal fixtures at the ICC Champions Trophy on Wednesday, each sitting two victories away from the title.
Neither team has made it to the final match of the tournament since England lost in the final to the West Indies back in 2004. South Africa won the 1998 ICC Champions Trophy in Bangladesh, but hasn’t had much success recently. England, the host this year, has never won it all.
Both teams are built mainly on offense and the bowling for each has been far from impressive. That being said, this fixture has the potential to be very high scoring, if all goes according to plan.
The fans will be cheering loud for the host team and South Africa will attempt to keep the crowd as quiet as possible. But will England or South Africa advance to the final? Let’s take a look at some of the details and storylines for the upcoming match.
Date: Wednesday, June 19, at 5:30 a.m. ET
Venue: Kennington Oval in London, England
Viewing Info: WatchESPN
England’s Power Combo Cold as Ice
England wouldn’t have had such a tough path to the semifinals if two of its top power hitters made much of an impact during group play. Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler were both nonexistent in England’s three matches at the ICC Champions Trophy.
The host country’s club nearly missed out on a semifinal berth, having gone 1-1 through its first two matches. Luckily for England, it took down New Zealand by 10 runs to secure a spot in the next round. But it was no thanks to the play of Morgan and Buttler.
Alastair Cook has led England on offense, scoring 153 runs through his team’s opening three fixtures. Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell and Joe Root each have scored at least 100 runs as well. You have to continue down England’s leaderboard to find Morgan and Buttler.
Morgan has scored an average of 12 runs per match while Buttler only has 15 runs over the course of the entire tournament—and 14 of them came against New Zealand. Both are supposed to be feared players for England, but neither has been able to have much success on a consistent basis.
England will struggle to continue to put runs on the board if Morgan and Buttler can’t step it up a bit. If they start to play like they should be, England could end up winning the ICC Champions Trophy. For now, though, that appears to be a big if.
South Africa Loves the Rain
If it weren’t for Mother Nature, it would likely be the West Indies in the semifinal instead of South Africa. Because of a rain-shortened match that rewarded both the West Indies and South Africa a point, it will be the South Africans competing on Wednesday.
In their head-to-head fixture during group play, each needed a victory to advance to the next stage of the ICC Champions Trophy. As Firdose Moonda of ESPN Cricinfo writes, the West Indies needed 191 runs to win after 26.1 overs and six wickets down. But with the rain falling, the match was stopped on 190 for 6. The fixture was ruled a tie.
In the standings, South Africa and the West Indies had identical records. Each won a game, lost a game and tied. South Africa’s higher net run rate, however, is what gave the team a spot in the semifinals. The West Indies, on the other hand, was bounced from the tournament.
South Africa has relied on AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla on offense, as they’re the team’s top two scorers. De Villiers has scored 138 runs through three matches while Amla has scored just 12 runs fewer. Colin Ingram and Francois du Plessis are just under the 100-run mark entering the semifinals.
South Africa’s bowling has not been its biggest strength thus far. JP Duminy has the best economy rate of any other bowler on the team, but it’s at 4.85. While Duminy has been effective for his team, his economy rate ranks 25th among other bowlers at the ICC Champions Trophy.