England take on South Africa in the first of three one day internationals this afternoon at Headingley – a warm up series ahead of this month’s Champions Trophy.
The home side start as favourites for this clash–they are also expected to win the Champions Trophy–as their talented players return from the IPL.
In the likes of Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Alex Hales and Joe Root, England have many a potential match winner, and they will be difficult to beat at home.
However, they won’t have it all their own way against a South African side who currently top the ODI rankings, having recently gone on a record-equalling 12 match winning run.
The Proteas also include the no. 1 ranked batsman and bowler in their side, in AB de Villiers and Imran Tahir, respectively.
The last time these two sides met in England was only last year, with South Africa winning a dramatic series 3-2.
With a May climate in England, and South Africa relatively fresh to the country, we expect an England win. Joe Root is undoubtedly the hosts’ best batsman, and has the added advantage of playing on his home county pitch.
Root is 3/1 to top the England batting, we think that looks likely, and his innings is also likely to constitute a material contribution to a home win. Add in his dangerous occasional off-spin (top wicket taker in his last ODI) and the 10/1 offered by William Hill for the Man of the Match award looks worth a flutter.
Additionally, Stan James go it alone in offering a market on which of 6 named bowlers will be the most economical. We strongly prefer Imran Tahir, the world’s no 1 and the prime danger to England’s batting. England have long struggled against quality leg spin and are likely to take a cautious approach to Tahir whilst targeting runs off his colleagues. 7/2 is too big.
Joe Root, Man of the Match, 10/1 William Hill
Imran Tahir, Most Economical Bowler, 7/2, Stan James
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