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Friday, 18 January, 2019

England talisman Root looks set for starring role at Headingley

Tour of England may inspire elegant opener Amla

Classy Joe Root could have a big part to play in one-day series with South Africa
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One-day series & first ODI
Sky Sports 2, 2pm Wednesday

England and South Africa produced a mesmerising one-day series last February and there should be more fireworks when two of the top three in the Champions Trophy betting meet at Headingley.

This three-match series is an opportunity for the teams to hone their plans for the Champions Trophy, which starts on June 1, but England will also be eager to avenge last year's 3-2 defeat in South Africa.

They smashed 399-9 in the opening game of that series, showcasing the kind of exhilarating batting that has propelled them to nine wins in their last ten home ODIs.

They are 3-1 favourites to lift the Champions Trophy at The Oval and that status reflects the remarkable progress they have made since the 2015 World Cup, as well as the significant advantage of playing at home.

Their batting strength is such that Jonny Bairstow, a wonderful 50-over player who struck an unbeaten 72 off 44 balls against Ireland last time out, doesn't make the first 11 now that Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes have returned from the Indian Premier League.

England's bowling is also shaping up nicely, with the pacy Mark Wood fit again and David Willey, Liam Plunkett and Jake Ball jostling for places in the seam attack.

Leg spinner Adil Rashid has been bowling well for Yorkshire and England and there are question marks over South Africa's impressive batting unit.

AB de Villiers has had an injury-ravaged 12 months and a quiet IPL, by his exceedingly high standards, while Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock and JP Duminy have also been short of time in the middle.

De Kock, who relishes the rhythms of 50-over cricket, made a century in the warm-up win over Sussex but was dismissed for a duck against Northamptonshire on Sunday, when the Proteas made a modest 275-7, clinging on for a 13-run victory.

With the Champions Trophy just over a week away, no chances will be taken with players' fitness so it may be worth swerving the series markets and betting on a match-by-match basis.

Tours of England always seem to inspire Hashim Amla and the elegant opener is worth backing to top-score for South Africa at Headingley.

Amla averages more than 60 from 12 ODIs in England, scoring 150 at the Rose Bowl in 2012, and he made two of the five centuries struck in this year's IPL.

Take the 6-4 about the equally classy Joe Root reaching 50 on his home ground. The Proteas have some excellent bowlers, notably young speedster Kagiso Rabada, but Root was unruffled by them in South Africa last year, scoring 52, 38, 125, 109 and 27 in five innings.

He has reached 50 in ten of his subsequent 16 one-day knocks (as well as an unbeaten 49 against Ireland earlier this month) and he made 113 against India at Headingley three years ago.

H Amla top South Africa runscorer
1pt 7-2 Betfair, Paddy Power
J Root to score a fifty
2pts 6-4 Hills


Tours of England always seem to inspire Hashim Amla and the elegant opener is worth backing to top-score for South Africa at Headingley
E.W. Terms
Sky bet