After a 3-1 Test series win followed by a 1-1 ODI series draw in South Africa, England next turn their attentions to a three-match T20 series against the Proteas, which gets under way on Wednesday. Ahead of the first game, we take a look at some of the key bets to look out for.

Back Buttler to return to form

For the four years building up to last year’s World Cup, England’s main focus was on the 50-overs format of the game – a tactic that ultimately paid off with Eoin Morgan’s side going on to win the nation’s first world title. With the T20 World Cup next on the horizon, due to take place later this year in October and November in Australia, it’s now the shortest format of the game that England will be obsessing with most in the months to come.

They open up their 2020 T20 campaign at Buffalo Park on Wednesday and one man who could be key in East London, South Africa, as well as later this year in Australia, is Jos Buttler. Buttler has had a rough time in the Test squad of late, with a series of underwhelming performances meaning his place in the first XI is seriously at risk ahead of the tour of Sri Lanka in March.

At T20 level, however, Buttler is a different beast and has shone for Rajasthan Royals in recent years in the IPL. Since he was moved up the order to open by Rajasthan in 2018, he has opened in 28 of his 29 T20 innings, averaging 46.88 in the role while striking at 153.72. Whether he opens for England this week, or plays a little lower down remains to be seen, but after being rested for the ODI series with South Africa, he will be feeling fresh, and given the context of his Test form, will feel he has a point to prove.

Buttler, who was also rested for the 3-2 T20 series win with New Zealand late last year, is 10/3 to be England’s top batsman and provides slightly better value than fellow big hitters Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow in this market at 3/1. While you’re at it, back Buttler at 11/4 to hit a 50 in East London.

Ali and Rashid to impress once more

Of the recent ODI series draw with South Africa, one of the most encouraging things to come out of it for England were the displays in Sunday’s final game of Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, who have both faced extended periods on the sidelines due to personal issues and injury problems respectively. In the last match of the series, Rashid picked up three wickets and helped restrict the Proteas alongside Ali, who secured a wicket himself while finishing up 17 not out with the bat.

Both Rashid and Ali are well suited to T20 cricket, with Rashid at his most dangerous in this format of the game and Ali regularly impressing for Worcestershire Rapids in the T20 Blast in recent years, and given their performances on Sunday they should come into this one eager to shine once more.

Rashid can be backed at 7/2 to be England’s top bowler on Wednesday, while you can get the aforementioned Buttler to hit over 24 runs and Rashid to take over one wicket at 14/5. Ali, meanwhile, offers better value at 5/1 to be England’s top bowler and is an outside bet at 7/1 to be the tourists’ top batsman.

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