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South Africa Look To Kill Off Weakened England


England will be reeling heading into this match up, having suffered an astonishing defeat at the hands of the Irish only a few days ago. In what will go down in World Cup folklore, Kevin O Brien smashed the fastest century in World Cup history to ensure an historic win over the old foe.

It's not quite do-or-die for England but it is getting close after they reached the half-way point of their group campaign with three points instead of the expected four.

Two more wins should take them into the quarter-finals, but that's not an easy task with Bangladesh and West Indies to follow this match.

South Africais well on track after two clinical victories set up their campaign in a positive manner.

England will be up against the most rounded attack of the tournament here tonight. The threat of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are well known, but the inclusion of a genuine wrist spinner in Imran Tahir has given South Africa an additional edge.

While England middle-order batsman Jonathan Trott made it clear that Tahir will play an important role in the game, skipper Graeme Smith said that he is banking on the Pakistan-born player to deliver yet again. 

"He gives us a real attacking option. From a captain's point of view, it's always nice to have all these variations which add an aura of unpredictability to the attack," Smith said.

Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Swann and Paul Collingwood sat out Friday's training session, but are expected to be fit for today, although Collingwood may miss out if Ravi Bopara is given the nod. Given his mediocre performances so far this tournament, James Anderson may very well find himself replaced by Ajmal Shahzad.

South Africa's main concern is whether to go with three pace bowlers, three specialist spinners or an extra batsman. On a pitch that should offer increasing turn as the game moves on, Johan Botha will likely return at the expense of Morne van Wyk.

England (possible) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Kevin Pietersen, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Ian Bell, 5 Paul Collingwood, 6 Ravi Bopara, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Graeme Swann, 11 James Anderson

South Africa (possible) 1 Graeme Smith (capt), 2 Hashim Amla, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 AB de Villiers (wk), 5 JP Duminy, 6 Morne van Wyk, 7 Francois du Plessis, 8 Johan Botha, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Imran Tahir

When playing the markets keep an eye out for new spinning up and comer Imran Tahir. Tahir was held back by South Africa as a surprise weapon for the World Cup, and so far it has worked wonders. An attacking spin bowler is something South Africa has long lacked and Tahir is making a marked difference.

For England, once again people are expecting Kevin Pietersen to light things up. He has been in good form this tournament, with his move higher up the order paying dividends. He enjoys the challenge of playing against his home country South Africa, and experience suggests that he may well come right here this evening.

On the South African batting scorecard, one would be a fool not to throw a few pennies on in-form batsmen the likes of Amla and AB de Villiers.

The pundits are all predicting a South African win in Chennai, but this match is one of the few high profile clashes that could go either way. England has proven themselves highly capable at the crease and if they can put together a decent bowling performance, they have every opportunity to succeed here.


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