England’s sensational win over Sri Lanka thanks largely to the brilliance of Alex Hales can be looked at from two perspectives. Firstly, as the skipper Stuart Broad himself acknowledged shortly after the match, it would surely have given a team smarting from a harsh loss to New Zealand a tremendous psychological boost.
It’s just the kind of mindset they would have wanted to be in heading into today’s crunch encounter against South Africa. The Proteas, as we know, flirted with danger before sealing the two points against underdogs Netherlands. So judging by the contrasting manner in which each side finished their previous match, I dare say the mental edge lies with the English.
However, the other way of assessing England’s win is that it came about mainly thanks to a mindblowing innings from one of the best T20 players around. For those not aware, Hales is currently ranked third in the ICC world T20 rankings for batsmen and was in fact sitting pretty at the top of the list last summer.
But the worrying aspect for England is something I’m sure they need no reminding of, that such special knocks don’t come about every day. Their bowling has been going for plenty of runs which is an area the South African batsmen will definitely be looking to fully exploit.
And they can indeed consider themselves fortunate for getting away with a woeful fielding performance that included four dropped catches and a missed run-out opportunity. This after Broad revealed that the team have been rehearsing their fielding drills with wet balls.
The dew was undoubtedly a major factor at Chittagong the other night and, with today’s encounter at the same venue, should again pose problems for the team fielding second. That said, South Africa certainly have the stronger bowling unit and did defend their score of 170 in a nailbiting clash against New Zealand at Chittagong.
Dale Steyn was phenomenal in that final over against the Kiwis and leggie Imran Tahir has also been having a good tournament so far. But the pressure is as much on Faf du Plessis’ side as it is on England today since the Proteas missed an opportunity to boost their net run rate after scrambling home against the Dutch.
And that pressure will be compounded if New Zealand manage to get a huge win over Netherlands in the day’s earlier fixture.