England continue their preparations for the 2016 ICC World Twenty20 in March with the first of two Twenty20 internationals against hosts South Africa on Friday in Cape Town.
Apart from warm-up fixtures, England have no other matches scheduled before the tournament begins in India next month, while South Africa still have a three-match series with Australia to play beforehand, per ICC cricket.
Here are the latest odds ahead of the first T20 meeting. All odds courtesy of Oddschecker (accurate as of 4 p.m. GMT on Thursday):
|Match Odds T20I Series: South Africa vs. England|
|South Africa to Win the Series||2/1|
|England to Win the Series||10/3|
De Villiers to Top Score for South Africa
South Africa arrive in the contest following a thrilling five-match one-day international series that saw them overturn a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 against England.
AB de Villiers' terrific unbeaten 101 helped steer the Proteas to victory at Newlands in an error-strewn contest. In the process, the side became just the fourth team to overturn two opening defeats to win a series, per ESPN Cricinfo’s George Dobell.
In De Villiers’ 200th ODI, his fabulous shot execution, accuracy, nerve and patience all stood out as the hosts held on to seal an historic victory with 36 balls remaining.
De Villiers got a close look at the surface before Friday's matchup:
The ODI captain’s stunning performance will likely see the 32-year-old move higher up the batting order, with national team coach Russell Domingo confirming his plans, per ICC Cricket.
"AB will bat near the top of the order at this event," he said before Thursday’s meeting. "For a couple of years, the experience wasn't what it is now so we felt we had to keep AB in that (lower) position."
Hales to Top Score the Series
England looked to bounce back from that disappointing ODI collapse with an arranged T20 warm-up meeting with South Africa A, comfortably winning by 44 runs in Paarl on Wednesday.
Eoin Morgan returned to form with a quick-fire 42 off just 13 balls as England finished on 202 for six, but it was Alex Hales who again impressed in the limited-overs form with his sixth-successive fifty-plus score, per ESPN Cricinfo.
While Morgan’s performance—which included five sixes from the first 10 balls he faced, per the BBC—was pleasing ahead of the World T20, Hales’ contributions are becoming increasingly consistent. The 6'5” batsman scored 78 and will be hoping to repeat his fine run of form when the first T20 gets underway on Friday.
Pressure will be on England to round off their tour of South Africa with a promising performance in their final showing ahead of next month’s main event. However, in De Villiers, South Africa have a batsman at the top of his game and ready to punish any poor bowling.