The latest World Twenty20 (T20) showdown between England and South Africa is set to get underway on 18th March, and when the balls start to fly it'll be the Proteas with the betting advantage.
When England and South Africa met in a pre-World T20 back in February, it took an inspired performance by death bowler Chris Morris to push the South Africans to a memorable victory. However, despite Morris' impressive 17 from seven balls, it was the mistakes on England's part that ultimately swung the match in South Africa's favour.
Heading into the pre-World T20 match, Morris was riding the crest of a wave after bagging a $1 million contract with Delhi in the Indian Premier League auction. He certainly used that momentum to punish a lacklustre England side. Reece Topley could've put the match beyond South Africa's reach in the final over, but a fumble at the last, combined with an official reprimand for rearranging the stumps in anger, meant England went home defeated and into the World Cup looking shaky.
The dramatic loss certainly wasn't the ideal warm-up for the World T20, but it doesn't appear to have knocked the bookmakers' confidence in England. In fact, in the overall T20 betting markets there seems to be a certain lack of affection for the South Africans, which is surprising given the side's recent form.
According to odds makers at William Hill Sports, South Africa will step up to the crease inside the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, as 8/11 favourites. While this is a contrast to the potential odds had England performed better back in February, it's also far from a rallying cry of support for the South Africans.
Unfortunately for England fans, the chances of a win start to look slim when you consider South Africa's six-match winning streak heading into the World Cup. While it's true that the team's wins over England and Australia were by the narrowest of margins, the results will certainly give Faf du Plessis' side a tonne of confidence ahead of their second England match in as many months.
In fact, the most impressive South African T20 stat in recent weeks is that the side has beaten the fourth, second and top ranked teams in recent World Cup warm-up matches. While many would argue that these matches shouldn't be factored into the equation, it's hard to completely ignore wins against India and Australia.
When you scan the outright odds for the World T20 trophy at Ladbrokes Sports you'll see that India is currently 10/3 for the title, while Australia boasts odds of 9/2. It's a similar story over at Coral where the Indian side is again tipped at 3/1 and the Aussies at 4/1.
Scrolling further down the list of betting odds, you'll then find South Africa at 4/1 with Coral Sports and 7/2 at William Hill Sports. This puts Proteas in line with Australia on both sites, reflecting the fact that the team has beaten all the top teams in the lead-up to the tournament. For those wanting a slice of value from the World T20, there's no doubt South Africa are it.
Of course, for England fans this wave of momentum for South Africa is another potential defeat waiting to happen. Despite England being even money for the match, recent form would suggest that the odds makers may have missed a trick.
While it would be foolish to completely dismiss England's chances on 18th March (fewer unforced errors in the last match would have seen them snap the South Africans' winning streak), the form book does suggest that Eoin Morgan's side will struggle. The smart money appears to be on South Africa this time around so head over to William Hill Sports today to start betting!
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