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Twenty 20 - Cricket: England vs South Africa third T20 preview

England face a third series decider of the summer when they take on South Africa in the third T20 on Sunday, still searching for their first series win under new white-ball captain Jos Buttler.

The Three Lions won the third match in the T20 series against India but had already surrendered the series after being thoroughly outplayed in the first two T20s.

With the one-day series against India tied at 1-1 going into the third match, England fell well short in the winner-takes-all decider, while Matthew Mott's men had to settle for a 1-1 draw in the one-day series against the Proteas after rain washed out the third contest last Sunday.

However, it is worth noting that the tourists looked to be in a pretty good position when the rain came, having reached 159-2 off 27.4 overs with Quinton De Kock going great guns, striking an unbeaten 92 off just 76 balls.

The two sides square off at the Ageas Bowl on Sunday in the deciding T20, with the action set to get underway at 14:30, with each looking for the confidence-boosting win ahead of the three-match Test series, which starts next month.

What

England v South Africa, third T20 international

Where

The Ageas Bowl, Southampton

When

14:30, Sunday 31st July 2022

How to watch

Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Cricket

OddsEngland 4/7, South Africa 11/8

England not looking right

On paper, England look to have the batting firepower they have always had, even without the likes of Eoin Morgan or Ben Stokes, but for whatever reason they have been unable to make that show on a consistent basis out in the middle so far this summer.

England did pass 200 in the third T20 against India but the pressure was off with the series having gone, and they had been dismissed for 148 and 121 when chasing in the first two matches.

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Buttler's batters were again inconsistent in the one-dayers against South Africa, with that theme continuing in this T20 series - posting a match-winning 234-6 on Wednesday before being bowled out for 149 the following day.

A similar pattern has developed on the bowling side but shorn of the likes of nailed-on starters Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, that was perhaps a little more expected.

There is understandable justification for them having been installed as favourites for the decider, having home advantage for one, but they look too short at 4/7, and South Africa appeal at 11/8.

Things might have been very different in the first T20 had the Proteas not dropped a number of catches, while they did not do themselves any favours with generally poor fielding and they could have bowled better under pressure.

However, to their credit, they stepped up in all facets on Thursday in a thoroughly convincing win, and have the momentum going into Sunday' match so look the value against a misfiring England.

Opener Roy bang out of form

Such is the fast and aggressive nature of T20 cricket that it is perhaps expected for matches to vary drastically from one to another but one thing has been consistent, over the summer in both shorter formats, Jason Roy is struggling for runs.

Much of England's success in white-ball cricket has stemmed from a dominant opening partnership that has granted them a fast getaway, but they have struggled as a unit in the main this summer.

Roy's form rather emphasises England's woes. Despite noises from the camp that he retains the squad's support, his place looks under threat, although whether he is dropped on Sunday remains open to question.

At the very least, it would take a huge leap of faith to trust him to top score for England at the Ageas Bowl, with his place at second in the betting realistically granted by his position at the top of the batting order.

The Surrey right-hander scored eight off 15 balls on a track where Moeen Ali smashed England's fastest ever T20 50, and Jonny Bairstow made an unbeaten 90 in England's 234-6, while his torture continued with a 22-ball 20 on Thursday when Jos Buttler, Ali and Bairstow all scored more in fewer deliveries - and each looks more likely than Roy.

Bairstow is arguably the most in form and is available at 7/2 but Ali is possibly worth a second look at 8/1 following his promotion up the order, although 11/1 on him winning player of the match could be the better play due to his bowling threat.

Deceptive Ngidi worth a chance

South Africa's attack was largely put to the sword in the first T20 on Wednesday with England clubbing sixes to all parts as they racked up 234-6 but Lungi Ngidi's figures stick out as he claimed five of the six wickets to fall.

The 26-year-old has a devilishly deceptive change of pace that has caused England's batters massive problems and he reaped the rewards with a five-fer in Bristol.

Although he didn't quite replicate the feat in Cardiff, he still took 2-11 off 2.4 overs and is worthy of consideration to finish as South Africa's top bowler at 10/3, particularly as he ranks fourth in the market behind Kagiso Rabada, Tabrais Shamsi and Anrich Nortje.

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