LONDON   -Ben Stokes’ innings of 89 and excellence in the field, alongside a sterling bowling performance from Jofra Archer, helped England to a 104-run win over South Africa in the first match of the 2019 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.

South Africa won the toss and chose to field, and Faf du Plessis immediately threw a curveball, handing Imran Tahir the opening over. It proved a masterstroke as the leg-spinner removed Jonny Bairstow with the second ball of the innings.

Joe Root joined Jason Roy at the crease and the pair put England fans at ease with a 106-run partnership that wrestled back the initiative.

The Proteas bounced back as Roy’s attempt at a cross-bat hit down the ground saw him find the safe hands of Du Plessis at mid-off in the 19th over, while Root departed the very next over, finding JP Duminy at backward point.

Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes added to the ongoing ebb and flow of the match, putting on the second 106-run partnership of the match.

Tahir then returned for his second wicket, as Morgan found a diving Aiden Markram at long-on. Jos Buttler perished for 18 at the hands of an excellent off-cutter from Lungi Ngidi and Moeen Ali struggled to find the middle of the bat, amassing three from nine balls.

Stokes was superb as those at the other end struggled, but his innings ended at the hands of a cutter from Ngidi. Some hard running between Jofra Archer and Liam Plunkett saw England to 311/8.

Archer, making his World Cup debut, was the danger-man with the ball for England, hitting Hashim Amla on the helmet to force the South African veteran to retire hurt. The England quick then made two key breakthroughs, removing both Markram and du Plessis. 

Quinton de Kock proved to be in a class of his own, and was aesthetically appetising in his strokeplay as he hit his 22nd ODI half-century.

But Plunkett intervened with a short ball to see to the end of the left-hander from the final ball of the 23rd over.

JP Duminy lofted the ball to long-on off Moeen Ali before Dwaine Pretorius was run-out by Ben Stokes for 1. 

Rassie van der Dussen reached a half-century before Archer returned for his third wicket, but the highlight of the innings came with a staggering catch by Ben Stokes at deep midwicket.

While Amla returned to the crease, Plunkett would nab his wicket as well, before Stokes got himself two wickets to cap a perfect day for him and England.

England captain Morgan was delighted with team performance:

“Delighted with that performance, the maturity and smart cricket that we played shows our improvement in the last two years.”

“Stokes extremely impressed, he’s had a day out today, with a matchwinner like that in your side, he added.

Morgan also praised Archer for his accurate and pacy bowling. “The slowest pitch and Archer bowled fast and accurate, outstanding from a young guy at the start of his career.”

His team’s outing in the field was also exceptional: “Huge amount of pleasure, we won’t have days like this every time out, we are looking to experiment in the field.”

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis said: “We were outplayed in all three departments today. I thought 300 was a par score, we were just bowling cutters basically, pace off was working, but there were some real good batting performances from England. Tahir at the top was a plan, they are good players of pace bowling, and it worked today. The bowling was really good, we kept getting wickets, but when chasing we need partnerships, and losing Amla, was a momentum-breaker. He’s okay now, when he came off he was a bit all over the place, we were a bit worried about him, but hopefully he’s okay now.

“When we have Dale in our resources, we back ourselves to bowl sides out as we don’t have the luxury of allrounders at 7,8 and 9.”

Ben Stokes was named Man of the Match: “I had a bit of a panic on, I was a little further in that I should have been, but I’ve the nickname, “The Claw”, and luckily it stuck!”

Scorecard

ENGLAND:

J Roy c du Plessis b Phehlukwayo 54

J Bairstow c de Kock b Imran Tahir 0

J Root c Duminy b Rabada 51

E Morgan c Markram b Imran Tahir 57

B Stokes c Amla b Ngidi 89

J Buttler b Ngidi 18

M Ali c du Plessis b Ngidi 3

C Woakes c du Plessis b Rabada 13

L Plunkett not out 9

J Archer not out 7

EXTRAS: (lb2, w8) 10

TOTAL: (8 wkts, 50 overs) 311

FOW: 1-1, 2-107, 3-111, 4-217, 5-247, 6-260, 7-285, 8-300

BOWLING: Imran Tahir 10-0-61-2, L Ngidi 10-0-66-3, K Rabada 10-0-66-2, D Pretorius 7-0-42-0, A Phehlukwayo 8-0-44-1, JP Duminy 2-0-14-0, A Markram 3-0-16-0

SOUTH AFRICA:

Q de Kock c Root b Plunkett 68

H Amla c Buttler b Plunkett 13

A Markram c Root b Archer 11

F du Plessis c Ali b Archer 5

H van der Dussen c Ali b Archer 50

JP Duminy c Stokes b Ali 8

D Pretorius run out 1

A Phehlukwayo c Stokes b Rashid 24

K Rabada c Plunkett b Stokes 11

L Ngidi not out 6

Imran Tahir c Root b Stokes 0

EXTRAS: (b4, lb5, w1) 10

TOTAL: (all out; 39.5 overs) 207

FOW: 1-36, 2-44, 3-129, 4-142, 5-144, 6-167, 7-180, 8-193, 9-207, 10-207

BOWLING: C Woakes 5-0-24-0, J Archer 7-1-27-3, A Rashid 8-0-35-1, M Ali 10-0-63-1, L Plunkett 7-0-37-2, B Stokes 2.5-0-12-2

TOSS: South Africa

PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Ben Stokes

UMPIRES: Bruce Oxenford, Kumar Dharmasena

TV UMPIRE: Paul Reiffel

MATCH REFEREE: David Boon