Chris Gayle’s flashing blade ensured it was a fiery baptism for a relatively green England side at the T20 World Cup and there’s no let up in store against a distinguished South African outfit next.
While running into the West Indies’ superstar batsman in that kind of mood is a justifiable excuse for defeat, the deficiencies Gayle preyed upon could easily be exposed again, starting against the Proteas.
Skipper Eoin Morgan, among other notables, has been left to wonder why Stuart Broad was not in the squad, with the former T20 captain offering England something that looks to be sorely lacking out in India; genuine pace.
With Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid so ineffective in spin-friendly conditions, Broad’s dynamism with the white ball was a huge miss.
Meanwhile, all of Chris Jordan, Reece Topley, David Willey and Ben Stokes rely a little too heavily on movement in the air and off the seam, something that was almost impossible to generate in Mumbai against the Windies and will probably continue to be throughout the tournament.
As a result, Gayle was served a very edible platter of hittable balls and once his eye was in then the tone was set and a decent total of 182 was swallowed up in a blitz of sixes – 11 to be precise.
England go into their second match at the same venue as 6/5 outsiders and unfortunately for their hopes of wriggling out the group, there is recently gathered evidence to suggest it’s the Proteas who look the better wager at 8/11.
Faf du Plessis’ side won both T20 internationals to complete a series clean sweep over England only last month on South African soil.
Although the first encounter was reasonably tight with the home side prevailing by three wickets, the second was anything but, and stands as an ominous omen for this match up given the similar personnel taking the field.
That nine-wicket mauling saw Du Plessis left unbeaten at the crease on 22 after fearsome openers AB de Villiers (79) and Hashim Amla (69*) had given Topley, Stokes and Jordan a similar day to forget.
In fact, the last time the sides met in World T20 action, South Africa’s opening pair also did the most collateral too, both surpassing 50 as the Lions succumbed to a three-run loss.
The conditions in Chittagong that day pretty much mirror those in India too.
De Villiers and Amla are the joint 8/1 favourites for man-of-the-match honours in Mumbai, so spreading a wager might well be rewarding given England’s one-paced unit.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.