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Stuart Dalgleish 21st Nov 2009 - 22:15

Rain leaves England to fight another day

Ok, the Three Lions didn't lose the first ODI as it didn't happen, but with the players that were missing or not at full fitness they were let off the hook slightly with the rain ruling out any play at the Wanderers.

It gives England a good chance of getting something out of the series now, especially given the news that the outstanding Jacques Kallis has been ruled out of all the ODI's and is a doubt for the first Test starting on December 16.

Before the first ODI I predicted that South Africa would win comfortably, but the loss of Kallis is a massive blow as it effectively leaves two slots to fill such is the importance of him to the batting line-up AND bowling attack.

This is great news for England, who should now have Paul Collingwood (6/1 to be top England batsman) and lead bowler James Anderson (9/4 to take the most wickets for England) at full fitness following the pairs' absence from the warm-up game before the first ODI.

The tourists will still be missing Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann, but the damage shouldn't be too bad for them to overcome when they get back into the team for the 3rd ODI at Cape Town on Friday.

As well as Collingwood and Anderson, they of course welcome back talisman Kevin Pietersen (10/3 to top score for England) to the fold who, as I mentioned in a previous blog, has an absolutely phenomenal record against the country of his birth; averaging nearly 100 in 13 ODI's and 151.33 in South Africa.

Sadly though for England, they all too often rely on KP to get the runs as others constantly fail to put big totals on the board, highlighted in the series against Australia where England were terrible without Pietersen and only captain Andrew Strauss (7/2 to be top scorer for England) posted anything near respectable scores.

But fast forward to the Champions Trophy and all of a sudden England were a decent batting force, and had a economical bowling attack too; it was enough to beat South Africa there en-route to the semi-finals, will it be enough for them to beat them in their own backyard?

Well, the tourists are 15/8 to take a 1-0 lead in the series; South Africa are 2/5 favourites to avenge that defeat.

It's a huge ask for England, but they've won six ODIs in a row against South Africa and shouldn't fear them; however in South Africa they've only triumphed four times in 19 games.

The course of the series depends on which England team turns up, as there surely can't be a more inconsistent side in the 50 over game (or in Test matches for that matter), when England are good they're really good and look like they could be a dominant force, but all too often they let their concentration go and collapse to embarrassing one-sided defeats.

Hopefully for the sake of the series the 'Jekyll' side of England can turn up and make it competitive to the end, unlike against the Aussies.



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