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Sep 08, 2012 at 12:01am IST

1st T20: Upbeat SA to take on England

After winning the Test series and drawing the ODI leg, South Africa will now take on England in first of the three Twenty20 matches at Chester-le-Street on Friday.

South Africa, who created history recently by becoming the first team to top the ICC rankings in all three formats recently, will be upbeat against the England who troubled by Pieterson saga.

England, the reigning World Twenty20 champions, have won six of their last eight T20s. The buoyant South Africa, meanwhile, have won 10 of the last 13 matches. That means, there will be a close contest between the two teams. The three Twenty20 games will also serve as warm-up for the upcoming ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, starting September 18.

1st T20: Upbeat SA to take on England

After winning the Test series and drawing the ODI leg, South Africa will now take on England in first of the three Twenty20 matches.

In a press conference, England T20 captain Stuart Broad has insisted the absence of Kevin Pietersen will not overshadow the upcoming series and their defence of the World Cup title. Pietersen was dropped after he sent "provocative texts" about his team-mates to the South African players.

The 32-year-old Pietersen, who was Player-of-the-Series in England’s triumph in 2010, will be missed in the series and the upcoming T20 world cup too.

England have called up speedster James Anderson as cover for Steven Finn, who suffered a back problem. Anderson is in line to make his first T20 international appearance in nearly three years. Tim Bresnan is also doubtful due to an injury.

Eoin Morgan, who has the highest average (40) for an England batsman in this format, will be the man to watch out for in the series. The 25-year-old Englishman has scored 603 runs in 22 matches. He has been England's top scorer in four of the last 10 Twenty20s.

The wicketkeeper batsman Craig Kieswetter, who has scored 411 runs from 18 matches, will be another key figure for England. The allrounder Ravi Bopara has crossed 40 runs mark in the last 18 innings and has scalped nine wickets. The devastating batsman Jonny Bairstow is capable to propel the innings in difficult situation. He scored an unbeaten 60 and 22 in the previous series against Pakistan. Luke Wright, with 355 runs in 25 innings and six scalps, is a star with both bat and bowl.

Jos Butler and Michael Lumb, who haven’t been so impressive in the game, England will be expecting a good knock from them in the middle order.

Alex Hales does have two half-centuries - including a scintillating 99 against West Indies earlier this summer – and is considered a good match finisher.

On the other hand, Hashim Amla, who has been in the form of his life so far on the tour, hasn’t been so notable in the T20 format. The South African star has just scored 115 runs in 8 matches with a meager average of 15 but his intelligence will be capitalized by the team.

AB de Villiers, the South African skipper who played a crucial knock in the final one-dayer at Trent Bridge, will be crucial for the team. The middle order will be bolstered by reliable JP Duminy. Though he didn’t have a good time in the ODIs, his T20 experience will be helpful for the visitors. His recent scores - 38, 41, 0, 67, 0, 20, 41, 96*, 35 are enough to describe his T20 style.

Only Graeme Smith has scored more runs in T20 cricket for South Africa. Smith is the top-scorer in four of his last nine games for the Proteas in this format.

With the likes of Dale Steyn and Lonwabo Tsotsobe The bowling department is seemed to be dominating. The experienced Jacques Kallis will be contributing with the bowl from the other end along with the companions Morne Morkel and Wayne Parnell.

Probable XIs:

England: Stuart Broad (Capt), James Anderson, Jony Bairstow, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Steven Finn, Craig Kieswetter (wk), Eoin Morgan, Samit Patel, Graeme Swann, Luke Wright

South Africa: AB de Villiers (capt/wk), Hashim Amla, Johan Botha, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Jacques Kallis, Albie Morkel, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe

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