England aiming for fast start

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Jos Buttler

Hosts England will be expected to get off to a winning start when they take on South Africa at The Oval on Thursday in the opening match of the World Cup.

Despite a couple of injury concerns and a warm-up loss to Australia, all seems to be rosy in the garden of the Three Lions, who are 9/5 to lift the trophy for the first time in their history.

England to beat South Africa @ 20/49

The return is not going to be great, but the home side simply look like they will have too much for a Proteas outfit, who have plenty of quality in their ranks but who appear to have a weakness in their middle-order batting.

Add in the fact that England have won 11 of the last 13 completed ODIs they have played at The Oval and it is easy to see why South Africa are out at 33/20 to spring a shock.

Top home team bowler – Jofra Archer @ 3/1

Many pundits are predicting that Jofra Archer will provide the X-factor needed to take England all the way in the competition and the paceman has certainly shown a spark in his handful of international appearances to date.

He impressed in the little bit of play at The Oval before the first ODI against Pakistan was washed out, while three wickets in the warm-up clash with Afghanistan at the same venue showed that the conditions in south London are much to his liking.

The perennially underrated Chris Woakes (3/1) is also a decent option, as he has the knack of doing damage with the new ball, something which will be key for any side hoping to win the World Cup.

Top home batsman – Jos Buttler @ 9/2

South Africa do have pace bowlers who could make inroads into the England batting and veteran leg-spinner Imran Tahir is always a danger, so batting deep could be crucial for the hosts.

With that in mind and despite him having not passed 50 in an ODI at The Oval to date, Jos Buttler could be the man to back, especially as he has scored two centuries in his last five one-day international innings.

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