• Proteas vs England: Two years on

    On Thursday, the Proteas will take to the field in their opening World Cup fixture against England – a match nearly two years to the day after a resounding ODI victory at Lords.

    STATS: Proteas vs England 

    The Proteas won the toss and elected to field in their dead-rubber against the English on 29 May 2017. A match that may, or may not, hold some significance as the World Cup finally gets under way.

    READ: World Cup opener looms large

    Played under grey skies and facing a daunting batting lineup – Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Eion Morgan, Johnny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Adil Rashid – the visitors’ attack was led by then 22-year-old Kagiso Rabada.

    The differences between the expected batting unit on Thursday and the match two years prior will be minor, with only Hales missing. The bowling lineup from that day bears little resemblance to Thursday’s expected starters, with Rabada supported by Wayne Parnell, Morne Morkel, Keshav Maharaj and Chris Morris.

    Three of the four aren’t in the current squad, with Morris unlikely to start game one.

    What happened?

    The Proteas effectively ended the contest inside five overs by reducing the hosts to 20-6; the first time ever in an ODI that six wickets had gone in the opening five overs.

    ‘There was something there for the bowlers today. It’s nice to bowl here, there’s a bit in the wicket and some good bounce. Always a pleasure.,’ said Rabada, who was named Man of the Match after taking 4-39, including the wickets of Roy and Hales in the opening blitz before returning to collect the scalps of Buttler and Rashid.

    The manner of the English collapse will be remembered as they attacked without thought or consequence. Parnell was effective in using the swing early on, but it was Rabada’s pace on a friendly pitch, combined with expansive stroke play that left England in turmoil.

    England managed to post 153, which was easily ticked off by contributions from Hashim Amla (55), Quinton de Kock (34), No 3 JP Duminy (28) and AB de Villiers (27*). Only Faf du Plessis failed, as he was caught behind off Jake Ball for five, but that mattered little after the opening stand of Amla and De Kock had put SA well ahead at 95-1 at almost a run a ball.

    Gloomy skies have greeted the South Africans at the Oval, and England’s batting lineup has matured, but without a change in style. As destructive as England’s explosive lineup can be, South Africa will start with plenty of optimism.

    With one wicket brings two, they always say. Rabada knows that sometimes one brings even more. It did two years ago…

    Photo: Philip Brown/Getty Images

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