Hosts Within Reach Of Decider

Source: AFP/
Alistair Cook has led from the front for England. Source: AFP/
England  and South Africa  meet in the first Champions Trophy semi-final at The Oval on Wednesday night (AEST), with a place in the decider at stake. Wins over Australia and New Zealand were enough for England to top Group A ahead of Sri Lanka on net runrate, while the Proteas thrilling tie against the West Indies in their final group game was enough for them to advance to the final four.

England will be sweating on the fitness of spinner Graeme Swann  for this match, with the offspinner having missed two of his side’s three matches in the tournament with niggling injuries. James Tredwell has been a more than capable replacement for Swann over the past twelve months and could well get another chance with England management not willing to take any chances with one of their star men ahead of the Ashes, which start next month. Each of the batsman at the top of the order have made valuable contributions throughout the event and Alistair Cook , Ian Bell  and Jonathan Trott  will again be expected to lay the platform for their middle order blasters to build on.

The Proteas went into the Champions Trophy without Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis and were dealt another blow early in the tournament with Morne Morkel being sent home with a quad strain that he picked up in the opening match against India. Dale Steyn  returned from his own injury to lead the attack against the Windies and is expected to be fit enough to do the same against the hosts, who are unlikely to make any changes to their side. Makeshift opener Colin Ingram  was man of the match for his 73 off 63 deliveries in his side’s most recent game and will be determined to continue his good form against the home side.

These teams split the One Day International series that they played in the UK last year 2-2, but England won the match at The Oval by four wickets.

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