England vs. South Africa Preview: Second Test
After South Africa snatched a tenacious draw from the jaws of defeat at Lord's, it means the series is still wide open. Headingley will now have added pressure since first blood has not been drawn by either side.
England, with only three days rest after toiling in the field for two days, will go into the match slightly fatigued and perhaps still ruing the missed opportunity to take a 1-0 lead in the four match series.
South Africa's psychological advantage is evident but both teams will be desperate for a win. At 0-0, the four-match series is effectively a three match series now and whoever triumphs at Headingley will most likely go on to win the series.
England: After the English bowlers failed to bowl out South Africa, all-rounder Flintoff is back in the England squad. The big question on everybody's lips though, is: Who will he replace?
The most likely candidate is Paul Collingwood who, to be fair, was unlucky to be given out, but his bowling didn't prove to be successful either.
South Africa: The Proteas failed to bowl England out in the whole test match and this will be an immediate concern for the men in green caps. Big fast bowler Andre Nel might be brought into the set-up while Steyn and Ntini will be looking to make early inroads into the England batting line-up.
If South Africa win the toss they will most certainly throw the ball back to England. The English bowlers will feel dejected psychologically and have suffered physically after unsuccessfully bowling for two days.
Panesar failed to take a single wicket after bowling sixty overs in the second innings, and that will have surely dented his confidence. England will surely look to bat first and give their bowlers a rest and they will be confident in their ability to handle the South African pace attack as they haven't been bowled out yet.
Whatever the tactics, neither team will begin by playing for a draw. The series is still there for the taking and an exciting encounter is definitely on the cards.
It is a cliche but the toss will play a huge part once again.
If England are made to field they may well feel like sheep being thrown into a lion's den after such a short break. In this case, South Africa will win, possibly by an innings.
If England choose to bat, South Africa's overawed bowlers at Lord's will certainly be more deadly. England will have to bat a lot better.
In this case it will all depend on how England negotiate the Proteas pace attack during the first couple of days. In this circumstance I'm going for an England win barring a fatal collapse in their first innings.
Match Starts: 18th July 2008, Friday, 11:00 (British time)
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