This summer's visit of South Africa has certainly been one to forget for England's cricket fans. The home team have been completely outclassed (less comprehensively in the one day series than the Tests, maybe, but outclassed nonetheless) by their visitors, for whom the steady batting of Hashim Amla (482 runs at 120.50 in the three Tests and 335 runs at 111.66 in the one day series) and the incisive bowling of Dale Steyn (15 wickets at 29.20 apiece in the Tests and five wickets at 20.60) have led the day.
The South Africans claimed the Test series 2-0 (and the No 1 Test ranking with the win), came back to draw the one day series 2-2 and now lead the three match T20 International series 1-0.
The second T20I, to be played at Manchester, is England's last chance to salvage what is left of this visit and carry some measure of confidence and self-belief into their tour of India, scheduled to begin in October.
Where to Watch Live
You can watch all the action live, from 6 pm BST on Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 1 HD. You can also catch free commentary and live text updates on ESPN Cricinfo.
First T20I Review
The first game, played at Chester-le-Street, was, in some ways, perfectly illustrative of England's troubles this summer. The South Africans won the toss, put England in to bat and remained largely untroubled by the batting line-up of a side targeting the title at the World Twenty20 Cup to be held in Sri Lanka.
Craig Kieswetter and Alexander Hales opened the batting for England and seemed to be progressing quite nicely, when the latter went for a run that was never there. South African veteran Jacques Kallis made no mistake with his throw and England were 27/1 after 3.4 overs. The hosts then lost wickets in rapid succession, with Kieswetter, Ravi Bopara, Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow and Samit Patel all failing to stem the onslaught of South Africa's bowlers.
Kieswetter top scored with 25 and were it not for a vital eighth wicket partnership of 33 between Graeme Swann and captain Stuart Broad, England could have been reduced to offering a target of below 100. As it transpired, Swann and Broad scored an unbeaten 18 each to guide England to 118/7 in 20 over. But that was never going to be enough.
For South Africa, Johan Botha and Robin Peterson led the charge, with 2/19 (4) and 2/27 (4) respectively.
South Africa's chase got off to an atrocious start and there was actually a period where England may have fancied a surprise win, particularly since their nemesis - Amla - was not playing. Unfortunately for them, Kallis is no less a stalwart and he found a similarly resolute individual in Jean-Paul Duminy; the pair closed the match out with almost ridiculous ease. Earlier, Jade Dernbach and Steven Finn struck thrice in the first four overs to leave the Proteas reeling at 29/3.
Second T20I Preview
This should be simple - England cannot afford to play as they did in the first match. The fact Peterson and Botha spun such webs around the batsmen should scare them into action. If they cannot play these spinners on English tracks, then they have no chance against subcontinent spinners on proper turning tracks.
However, this is a very new England side. One that has displayed a fair degree of determination and grit in the past - the series against Pakistan in the UAE is an excellent example. Admittedly the absence of Kevin Pieterson is proving to be problematic but in Eoin Morgan they have one of the finest T20 batsmen around and if (yes, it is a big ask) they can turn Bopara's form around, they might have a chance at snatching something from the remaining two games.
South Africa, on the other hand, have very little to worry about. They have been dominant all through this summer (except for occasional poor patches) and the fact they are able to get runs without Amla or wickets with Steyn is a good omen for them. However, the form of Faf du Plessis is as much a problem for them as Bopara's is for England.
England: Craig Kieswetter, Alex Hales, Luke Wright, Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Samit Patel, Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, Danny Briggs
South Africa: Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Justin Ontong, Albie Morkel, Robin Peterson, Johan Botha, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe
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