England Fancy Chances Against Limp South Africa

Published: 29th March 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 29th March 2014 05:28 AM   |  A+A-


Does luck generate success, or does success generate its own luck? Stuart Broad reckons that fortune owes England a favour after a difficult few months. Today (Saturday) they play South Africa in the knowledge that two more wins will get them into the semi-finals of the World Twenty20; four more will earn them the title.

Lose and, barring a major surprise, they will be home to watch the Grand National. But Thursday's win over Sri Lanka has generated a sense that their luck may finally be changing.

"Touch wood," smiled Broad, tapping the table. "We've got to be getting there, haven't we?" In a sense, the question is moot. England believe they have emerged from the darkness. Michael Lumb's catch off Mahela Jayawardene, deemed to have hit the ground first, nurtured a justifiable sense of grievance. Jayawardene's drop of Alex Hales, who went on to score a match-winning 116 not out, may well be the moment that England's luck turned.

"We have had a couple of things go against us," Broad said. "Mother Cricket has not looked after us particularly well this winter, but that happens when you're not doing your basics right. We were dropping our catches, so maybe we didn't deserve that decision."

Another slice of fortune is that England have now played two games in conditions South Africa are yet to experience. Chittagong's dew bestows the sort of cricket that you might expect to find on a Japanese game show - a wet and wild roller-coaster of dropped catches, cartoon pratfalls and grimacing bowlers. South Africa attempted to acclimatise with an evening training session under lights at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium yesterday, while England also ventured out after dark for fielding practice, after four simple catches went down against Sri Lanka.

"We know how difficult it is to field out there," said Broad. "We know that with bowlers under pressure with a wet ball, it's hard to deliver your skills."

Which is where another element of luck comes in. "I think it will be a big toss again," Broad predicted. "When the dew comes, the spinners are going to find it very hard to stop high scoring because it's just skidding on, there's no real turn."

The dew is at its worst after 9pm, coinciding almost perfectly with the start of the second innings, which may partially explain why all three evening games at Chittagong have been won by the team chasing.

South Africa have been a curiously inert force; running on the fumes of Dale Steyn, kept alive only by chokes by New Zealand and Holland.

There appears to be a conspicuous absence of leadership in the side.

Captain Faf du Plessis will miss this game after being banned for slow over-rates. A?B de Villiers has been anonymous. South Africa bear all the hallmarks of a team in flux, still struggling to fill the vacuum vacated by Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith.

England's sole global trophy in 2010 was won on the back of a chastening opening defeat, after which there was nothing left but to go for broke. England are at their best when they play without fear and attack with abandon. If they reproduce the same gleeful, lawless streak that emerged against Sri Lanka, they may well find that fortune favours the brave.

Meanwhile, Broad has been fined 40 per cent of his match fee, and his England team-mates 20 per cent, for England's slow over rate against Sri Lanka. Broad had already lost 15 per cent of his previous fee for criticising umpires during the Duckworth/Lewis defeat against New Zealand.

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