Sunday, August 31, 2008

South Africa desperate to fight back

Andrew Flintoff: back in ominous form with the bat.

Match facts
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Start time 10.45BST (9.45GMT)

Big Picture
And so, the Kevin Pietersen fairytale continues. England took an unassailable 3-0 lead at The Oval, but for England's new and irrepressibly positive captain, he and his team have greater goals in their sights: a 5-0 whitewash. It may have seemed an implausible task before the series, but such has been England's dominance that Pietersen's ambition is perfectly achievable. Sunday's match represents another chance for South Africa to turn around their short-term fortunes, yet the poor form of their senior players - Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher in particular - has prompted their coach, Mickey Arthur, to look ahead to the future. He wants the younger generation to stake a claim for their own futures, but also sees Lord's as the beginning of a new era. It cannot come quick enough, as it seems unlikely England will take their foot off the gas in the last two games.

Form guide
England WWWLL
South Africa LLLWW

Watch out for...

Andrew Flintoff
How England have missed him. Although he continues to maintain he is a batting allrounder who occasionally bowls, the rest of the world coo with awe over his consistent venom with the ball. Yet, pleasingly for him, he has shown some of his best form since the 2005 Ashes with the bat. A cultured, mature 78 - his second of the series - at The Oval helped lift England out of a sticky position to post a challenging 296, and perhaps now that he is the oldest member of this young side, the added responsibility has made him a more complete player.

Jacques Kallis
It was hoped, certainly for South Africa's fortunes, that his elevation to captaincy might reverse his dismal form with the bat. Not so. He managed just 9 at The Oval in their 126-run defeat, yet it seems farfetched that one of South Africa's most consistent run-scorers won't make an impact come the end of the series. Should he need any inspiration, he might find it in the words of his coach, who has labelled the Lord's ODI as the start of a new era. Kallis, a proud man of prodigious talent, will not fade away meekly. Or will he?

Team news
It seems perfectly reasonable to expect England to name an unchanged side from the one which walloped South Africa on Friday. Samit Patel took the plaudits for his 5 for 41 - the first England spinner to take a five-for since Ashley Giles in 2002 - yet he also struck an impish 31 from 33 balls, as well as taking two very smart catches. With Flintoff in form, and Steve Harmison bowling with accuracy and pace, England are a team united.

England (probable) 1 Ian Bell, 2 Matt Prior (wk), 3 Owais Shah, 4 Kevin Pietersen (capt), 5 Andrew Flintoff, 6 Paul Collingwood, 7 Luke Wright, 8 Samit Patel, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 James Anderson, 11 Steve Harmison.

It is difficult to know who Arthur will opt for, in light of his rallying call to the youngsters. JP Duminy is clearly one for the future, yet has looked overawed, while Morne Morkel has shown glimpses of his own prolific ability. His brother, Albie, has returned from injury, and briefly asserted himself with 16 from 17 balls in Friday's game, but South Africa urgently need their wizened troops - Kallis, Boucher, Gibbs - to lean on their vast experience and produce the goods.

South Africa (possible) 1 Herschelle Gibbs, 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Jacques Kallis (capt), 4 AB de Villiers, 5 Jean-Paul Duminy, 6 Mark Boucher (wk), 7 Albie Morkel, 8 Johan Botha, 9 Morne Morkel, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Makhaya Ntini.

Umpires: Mark Benson and Simon Taufel

Pitch and conditions
Though summer has only briefly threatened to arrive, Lord's has quickened up as the season has progressed. Yet it offers plenty of assistance to the bowlers - even more so when considering the humid, stormy conditions that are forecast for north London.
Stats and Trivia

* South Africa have only played once at Lord's before, back in 2003, and were beaten by seven wickets. Andrew Flintoff and James Anderson, who shared five wickets in that game, are the only surviving members of England's squad.

* Not since 2006, in the VB Series, have South Africa lost three ODIs in succession. The last time they lost four matches in a row was against Sri Lanka in 2004, a series that they lost 5-0.

"That's the sort of pressure we want. Pressure, I believe, is a privilege. If we win 5-0, which is a goal, then it takes us up to the top with Australia. If we keep delivering there's no reason why we can't do it."
Kevin Pietersen's confidence knows no bounds.

"Everyone is under serious threat at the moment. We are going to need some big performances from them. It's up to the youngsters in the next two games to put their hands up and stake a claim for places."
Mickey Arthur maintains that no South Africa player's place can be taken for granted