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England Vs South Africa, ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, Match 20: Three Key Battles To Look Forward To

Both England and South Africa faced shocking upsets in their previous games and would like to turn things around in Mumbai. Let's look at three key battles that could shape how the ENG Vs RSA match pans out

Dawid Malan after scoring a ton against Bangladesh in Dharamsala.
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After two shocking upsets that brought the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 alive, the teams at the receiving end of those upsets will face off at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday, October 21. England suffered a humiliating 69-run defeat to Afghanistan in Delhi, which would have set the alarm bells ringing in the defending champions' camp. With their heavy opening-game loss against the 2019 ODI World Cup runners-up New Zealand, England have now lost two out of their three games and are placed fifth on the points table. (Scorecard | Streaming | Full Coverage)

South Africa, on the other hand, started off strongly with a record-breaking win against Sri Lanka and followed it up with a resounding victory over five-time champs Australia, before collapsing in a heap in the face of Netherlands' gritty, passionate performance. It was a loss that would have reminded the Proteas of their long history of underperforming in the World Cup, and one they would like to forget quickly.

Before the start of the marquee quadrennial tournament, both the teams were being considered as strong contenders for the trophy. These losses would have led them to recalibrate, and both would be raring to return to prime form. Whichever team comes up trumps on Saturday will gain huge confidence from notching up a win against a (theoretically) strong opponent, in the lead-up to the business end.          

Let's look at three key battles that could shape how the England Vs South Africa match pans out in Mumbai:

Dawid Malan Vs Kagiso Rabada
Fire will meet fire when a hard-hitting Dawid Malan takes strike against the fierce Kagiso Rabada. Malan has been among the runs lately and smashed a 107-ball 140 that made him England's oldest World Cup centurion. When Malan scores, he scores at a pace that derails opposition plans and sets the platform nicely for his side. But going big against Rabada is always fraught with risk. The 28-year-old fast bowler hit the deck hard and and can extract disconcerting lift from even dead-looking pitches. Malan will have to watch out for early seam movement and the away-going delivery to stand a chance and prosper.    

Jos Buttler Vs Marco Jansen
The usually destructive England captain has had a relatively quiet World Cup so far, with a best of 43 in the opener against New Zealand. He is due for a big one and has a rich experience of the Indian conditions through the IPL. But it won't be so easy against the tall and lanky Marco Jansen, who has a habit of unsettling batters with extra bounce and just enough movement to find the edge. Jansen has picked up two wickets in each of the Proteas' three games so far and would love to include the prized scalp of Buttler in his swelling wicket haul to rock the title holders.    

Temba Bavuma Vs Adil Rashid
The South Africa skipper burst onto the scene with a string of superlative performances, and was rewarded with the captaincy as a result. He averages just a shade under 51 in ODIs and has a game built on finesse and patience, both of which he will need to do well in Indian conditions. He hasn't fired in the World Cup so far and needs to get going soon for his team's sake. Among the many challenges presented by the English bowling attack, perhaps the most critical one for Bavuma would be the leg spin of Adil Rashid. Rashid has the knack of picking up big wickets against the run of play and has a deceptive googly that befuddles batters regularly. The winner of this battle could help their team win the crucial middle overs period, based on which the death overs will play out.   

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