The Wankhede stadium is all set for a terrific contest, as England take South Africa in match no. 20 of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 on Saturday, October 21. South Africa have won two out of three matches, with their only defeat so far coming against the Netherlands in their previous match. A lacklustre performance from their bowling unit resulted in the Netherlands getting an above-par total in Dharamshala, which later got settled. Meanwhile, the English side are struggling for consistency in the World Cup.

After a one-sided hammering in the hands of New Zealand in the tournament opener, England picked up some momentum with a 137-run win against Bangladesh. Dawid Malan (140 off 107 balls) starred with a big century as the defending champions mustered a massive 364 runs batting first. Reece Topley picked up four wickets in the run chase and England picked up their first points.

However, that confidence went down the drain in their next match, after Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Mujeeb Zadran fired Afghanistan to a famous win. Gurbaz’s 57-ball 80 and Ikram Alikhil’s half-century propelled Afghanistan to 284 runs in the first innings. Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan spun a web and dismantled the English batting line-up, picking up a 69-run win.

England are in need of a win in this contest as a defeat could dent their title hopes very early in the tournament, leaving them in a must-win situation in nearly every match. The potential return of Ben Stokes, though, could spark some confidence in the team.

Openers: Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan

Jonny Bairstow is one of the best white-ball cricketers in the world and has been struggling for runs in this format in the last two years. He scored only 242 runs in 12 matches since the beginning of 2022, but Buttler might continue with him as he is capable of changing games all by himself.

Dawid Malan got one big century against Bangladesh and is booming with confidence. One of England’s most consistent white-ball cricketers, Malan has scored 186 runs in three matches in the tournament so far.

Middle order: Joe Root, Harry Brook, Jos Buttler, Liam Livingstone

Harry Brook, who was picked ahead of Jason Roy in the World Cup squad, picked up his first half-century against Afghanistan. His valiant effort, however, wasn’t enough to take England over the line. Joe Root too has been in great form, scoring 170 runs in three matches, which includes two half-centuries.

Skipper Jos Buttler has a great record against England, scoring 540 runs at an average of 49.09, which includes two centuries and two fifties. Liam Livingstone, who boasts of a strike rate of 113.66, is a key in the lower-middle order. He is not off to a great start in the tournament but is capable of scoring big on his day.

All-rounders: Sam Curran, Ben Stokes

Ben Stokes, England’s hero in the 2019 ICC World Cup, was away from the playing XI due to a hip injury. Although there were rumours of him potentially leaving the team to recuperate, he has confirmed he is fit again. Stokes is likely to take Chris Woakes’ place in the team.

Sam Curran is another very capable all-rounder with great experience of playing in Indian conditions. His left-arm pace has not been very effective up the order, but he can be lethal if he gets some swing.

Bowlers: Adil Rashid, Mark Wood, Reece Topley

Adil Rashid is a bonafide star with the white ball and he must play a crucial role if England were to find form again. He has excelled in batter-friendly conditions over the last few years and at Wankhede, his experience in trapping batters will be pivotal.

Mark Wood and Reece Topley will continue to take the bulk of the responsibility in the opening few overs. Topley is off to a top start in the tournament, picking up five wickets in two matches and is set to keep his place.

England Predicted Playing XI

Jonny Bairstow

Dawid Malan

Joe Root

Harry Brook

Jos Buttler (c & wk)

Liam Livingstone

Sam Curran

Chris Woakes

Adil Rashid

Mark Wood

Reece Topley

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