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Preview: South Africa vs. England First ODI - prediction, team news

Sports Mole previews Friday's first one-day international between South Africa and England, which will be played at the Mangaung Oval, Bloemfontein.

England begin 2023 with a three-match ODI series in South Africa as they gear up for the defence of the 50-over World Cup, which will take place in India later this year.

Both sides will be keen to begin the series with a win when they face off at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein on Friday.

Match preview

England batsman Jos Buttler celebrates scoring a half-century against India on July 17, 2022.© Reuters

After being knocked out of the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup following a surprise 13-run defeat to the Netherlands, Mark Boucher stood down from his position as head coach.

Cricket South Africa have subsequently decided to split the roles, naming Shukri Conrad and Rob Walter as head coaches of the Test and limited-overs sides respectively.

While both coaches will not begin their roles until February, the less-established members of the South African squad will be keen to impress Walter, who will undoubtedly be keeping a close eye on the ODI series with England.

The three matches against England will take on greater importance for the hosts, who are currently battling with Ireland, Sri Lanka and West Indies in the World Cup Super League for the final automatic qualifying berth for the 50-over World Cup.

South Africa need to complete a series whitewash over England and win their two ODIs against the Netherlands in March and April if they are to qualify automatically, otherwise, they will have to secure their place in India via a 10-team qualifier tournament.

Meanwhile, after winning the T20 World Cup in November, England are now preparing for a busy year across both red-ball and white-ball formats, with an Ashes series and an ODI World Cup awaiting them before the end of 2023.

Although England may be the reigning champions, the tourists arrive in South Africa with a point to prove, after drawing one and losing two of their previous three ODI series, including a 3-0 defeat to Australia in November.

Captain Jos Buttler may be the first to point out that there were mitigating circumstances to the Australia defeat, with the series beginning four days after England's T20 World Cup triumph, while a number of fringe players were given valuable game time.

Although England have not played since the series whitewash in Australia, several members of their squad have kept busy over the winter, competing in the various T20 leagues around the world, but the focus returns to international cricket in Bloemfontein.

With only 13 ODIs separating England between now and the start of their World Cup defence, every game will be crucial for coach Matthew Mott and Buttler to establish who should be involved in the tournament in India.

Team News

England batsman Jason Roy in action against the Netherlands on June 22, 2022.© Reuters

A South African side captained by Temba Bavuma is expected to opt for an opening pairing of Quinton de Kock and Janneman Malan.

Anrich Nortje will attempt to intimidate the England batting lineup with his fierce pace that can comfortably reach the 90mph mark.

Lungi Ngidi, Kagiso Rabada and Marco Jansen could all be involved, highlighting the quality that the hosts possess in their seam attack, while Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi will provide the spin options.

As for the tourists, eight members of their squad have already spent at least a couple of weeks in the country, competing in the inaugural edition of the SA20 league.

Jofra Archer was one of those who have been playing in the franchise competition, after returning from an injury layoff, and he is set to feature for England for the first time since a T20 international against India in March 2021.

After being named player of the tournament at the T20 World Cup, Sam Curran will want to play a key role, while Harry Brook could make his first ODI appearance.

South Africa squad:
Temba Bavuma (capt), Quinton de Kock, Heinrich Klaasen, Rassie van der Dussen, Keshav Maharaj, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Sisanda Magala, Janneman Malan, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Wayne Parnell, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi

England squad:
Jos Buttler (capt), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Harry Brook, Sam Curran, Ben Duckett, Dawid Malan, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Phil Salt, Olly Stone, Reece Topley, David Willey, Chris Woakes

SM words green background

We say: England to win

Although England will have to deal with South Africa's dangerous bowling attack, we think that they have the quality with the bat to set a respectable total or mount a run chase, and we believe that a side boosted by Archer's return will be able to begin the series with a win.

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