The first semi-final is to be played at the Oval today and on paper it looks too close to call.
The bookmakers make England 4/5 favourites, and have South Africa at Even money.
I’m not too sure I would agree with that, I believe the conditions will slightly suit the South Africans better today. It looks a perfect day for batting, and I believe that this could be a 300+ runs wicket, which isn’t playing to England’s strengths.
On the flip side, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are both out , and with no Jacque Kallis in the squad, the Protea’s bowling does look very short. It struggled badly against India (who I believe to be a better batting unit than England), so the English batsmen should fancy their chances today.
England have no Graeme Swann, but like I wrote in the New Zealand match preview, James Tredwell is a more than adequate replacement.
So there’s pluses and minuses for both teams. I don’t expect weather to play a part, although thunder storms could turn up anywhere in the UK today.
England have won the toss and elected to field. I hope they don’t live to regret that, as I eluded too above, I’m not convinced England are a side equipped to chase 300+.
I reckon De Villiers would have batted first if he won the toss. Experience suggests South Africa might lose their nerve chasing, so I believe England have already handed the initiative to South Africa. If on the other hand, England take early wickets, Cook’s gamble will have paid off.
In the outright winner betting, India remain strong favourites. Heavy rain is forecast on the day of their semi-final, so they could be in the final without bowling a ball (group winners qualify in the event of a washed out match).
Champions Trophy Betting
South Africa 3/1
Sri Lanka 6/1