South Africa v England 2nd T20 Preview: Can the tourists turn their form around before the World Cup next month?

England conclude their tour of South Africa in Johannesburg, where they must win to avoid losing the series.

South Africa v England 2nd T20 Preview: Can the tourists turn their form around before the World Cup next month?
Heartbreak for Topley as South Africa steal a victory in the first T20 match (photo: Getty Images)

Eoin Morgan's England are in desperate need of a victory on Sunday as they take on South Africa in their final match of the tour. The hosts won a last ball decider on Friday to put themselves in pole position to win the T20 series.

Enland's batters need to find some form

England put on a disappointing total of just 134 in the first match, losing eight wickets in the process, despite Alex Hales and Jason Roy smashing 36 off the first three overs. The result followed on from the tourists' 3-2 defeat in the one day international series, despite taking a 2-0 lead.

England Head Coach Trevor Bayliss will be looking to his batters to rekindle the spark they produced in the opening two matches. Joe Root is the only batter who can truly hold his head high as the tour concludes, whilst Alex Hales made up for a poor test series with better performances in the one day format. Jason Roy failed to push on and make a score after a good start on Friday, whilst the middle order are almost non-existent at present, although Jos Buttler did stick around to score 32 not out when England were in danger of being embarrassingly bowled out.

Eoin Morgan's performance will be under the microscope, struggling to score runs in a number of his latest matches, despite an exciting 42 not out against South Africa A last week. The Irishman has also struggled as captain in recent weeks, unable to formulate a victory in England's last four matches against the hosts.

How will Reece Topley respond?

Along with Hales and Root, Reece Topley has been one of the stars of the tour for England, picking up ten wickets in the one day series, leaving him at the top of the bowling charts. However, Topley had a torrid time on Friday, unable to pick up a wicket and missing a crucial run out opportunity that would have taken the game to a Super Over.

A sign of a top sporting talent is how they recover from adverse times. The series has already produced examples of players who have been criticised but returned to star for their team. Alex Hales came back after a poor test series to be top scorer in the one day format, whilst Chris Jordan produced one of his best England performances on Friday with bowling figures of 3-23 that nearly won his team the game, despite having a poor one day series. Imran Tahir has also found life difficult until he tore through the England batting ranks in the 5th ODI and Friday's Twenty20 match. Topley is only 22 and will be tested mentally for the first time at international level on Sunday.

Imran Tahir was excellent on Friday (photo: TalkSport)
Imran Tahir was excellent on Friday (photo: TalkSport)

Can the spinners prove their worth against a strong batting line-up

England's spinners have a key part to play in the upcoming months, particularly on the turning Indian pitches where the World T20 will take place. Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid were not at their best in the one day series, but did halt the hosts' progress on Friday with three wickets between them.

Yet, like England, South Africa have a deep batting line-up. There is no better evidence of this than their number eight Chris Morris, who scored 17 off 11 balls to win the game for the hosts on Friday, folllwing his 62 not out to dig South Africa out of a hole in the 4th one day international. 

Last chance to impress

Even though England are unable to win the series, it is the last chance for each player to put their case forward in an international match to earn a start against West Indies on 16th March in Mumbai. It will also give the squad an opportunity to see just how they rank against one of the best Twenty20 playing nations.

Key players

Imran Tahir: after finding form and wickets in recent weeks, the England batsmen may have to bat more conservatively if Tahir can get the ball to turn off the Johannesburg pitch.

Ben Stokes: England's star performer in the test series, Stokes is yet to replicate the same form in the shorter formats on the tour, although he looked more dangerous on Friday, picking up a rare Twenty20 wicket maiden in the process.