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Pace, spin likely key in South Africa-England T20 series

South Africa have not played an international match since March but six of their squad played in the IPL, with captain Quinton de Kock and former captain Faf du Plessis joining Rabada and Nortje in having successful tournaments.

FILE: South Africa's Kagiso Rabada bowls during the first T20 international cricket match between South Africa and Australia at The Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on 21 February 2020. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - Fast bowlers and spinners could play a significant role in a three-match Twenty20 series between South Africa and England, starting at Newlands in Cape Town on Friday.

South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje were a successful strike combination for runners-up Delhi Capitals in the recent Indian Premier League in the United Arab Emirates.

England’s Jofra Archer was outstanding for the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL, while Mark Wood played in all three matches in England’s most recent T20 series, when they beat Australia 2-1 in September.

All four fast men have the ability to bowl at around 150km/h. Nortje clocked a tournament record of 156.2km/h during the IPL.

England may have an edge in spin bowling, with leg-spinner Adil Rashid a consistent threat in white-ball cricket. Long-time stalwart Imran Tahir is no longer in the South African team but left-arm unorthodox spinner Tabraiz Shamsi has the ability to be a worthy successor.

Early season pitches in South Africa tend to give some help to both pace and spin, so it is possible that the matches could provide a reasonable contest between bat and ball instead of providing feasts of attacking batting.

South Africa have not played an international match since March but six of their squad played in the IPL, with captain Quinton de Kock and former captain Faf du Plessis joining Rabada and Nortje in having successful tournaments.

The other squad members played in two rounds of four-day matches before assembling in Cape Town last week.

England have not played since their series against Australia but Archer, captain Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and Sam Curran all played regularly during the IPL.

England have played two intra-squad warm-up matches since arriving in Cape Town last week but South Africa’s planned warm-up games were cancelled after two unnamed members of their 24-man squad tested positive for COVID-19.

England brought 26 players to South Africa but only 15 were named in the T20 squad, with others picked to play in three one-day internationals after the T20 games or as travelling reserves.

South African selection convener Victor Mpitsang said South Africa’s big squad would cover both series.

England won 2-1 in a series in South Africa in February but the matches were closely contested, with South Africa winning one match by one run and England another by two runs.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, no spectators will be allowed at the matches.

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