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.”