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Fri Apr 18 17:43:54 SAST 2014

Proteas feel refreshed

Mark Salter in Southampton | 28 August, 2012 06:140 Comments
England v South Africa: 1st NatWest Series ODI
Captains Alastair Cook of England and AB DeVilliers of South Africa at the toss during the 1st NatWest Series ODI match between South Africa and England at SWALEC Stadium on August 24, 2012 in Cardiff, Wales
Image by: Tom Shaw / Getty Images

THE rain in Cardiff that forced the abandonment of the first one-day international has, if nothing else, given South Africa a bit more time to come down from the high of winning the test series 2-0 and becoming the top test nation.

Proteas captain AB de Villiers felt that his team would be better prepared for the second ODI in Southampton today.

"Some of the players were still in test mode, so it will be good to go into this game more refreshed," he said.

The 5.3 overs bowled in Cardiff, in which Ian Bell scored 26 off 18 balls, including two sixes off Morne Morkel, were enough to give South Africa a pointer to the attitude and potential of England's top order.

"He played some good shots, but he had to take some risks to do so, which was encouraging for us," said De Villiers. "We have had another look at their top three and I know we are going to have to make some inroads there - we have to get off to a good start."

The Proteas, having taken advice from former teammate Neil McKenzie, now playing for Hampshire, are considering whether to use another spinner to supplement Robin Peterson and accommodate the drier pitch - but otherwise the team will be similar to that picked for the first match. Which will be a relief for Dean Elgar, whose international debut lasted 24 minutes before the wash-out on Thursday and who is "99.9% sure" to play in the day-night game today.

There are still concerns over the fitness of Albie Morkel (ankle) and Dale Steyn (stiff neck), although no one is pressing the panic button.

England will stick to their tried and trusted formula of six specialist batsmen and five bowlers as they battle to salvage some pride from the contest against South Africa and retain their top ranking in ODIs.

They are even more comfortable with their formula, thanks to the emergence of Bell, who, since the retirement of Kevin Pietersen, has blossomed as an opening batsman. Some even suggest his improvement is because of Pietersen's retirement.

Against an average of 35.92 in all ODIs, Bell's average rose to 42 when England whitewashed Australia 4-0, and to an impressive 85 in the two matches against the West Indies.

South Africa will go top of the rankings if they win here today, but as the ratings are calculated on a game-by-game basis, they could, of course, lose it again.

England have won their past 10 ODIs, including four against Pakistan, who had not quite come off the high of humiliating England 3-0 in the test series immediately preceding it.

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