England sealed a dominant 104 run victory over South Africa in their opening match of the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup with Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes headlining a superb all-round display for the Three Lions.
The home nation were held to just 311 in the first innings by a potent Proteas bowling attack which saw in-form batsman Jonny Bairstow caught behind for a golden duck.
Ben Stokes showed maturity and poise with bat-in-hand, striking a sublime 89 off just 79 balls and also dazzled in the field by taking a near impossible grab at the boundary that will go down as one of the great catches in the history of the sport.
The relentless pace of young starlet Jofra Archer was the nail in the coffin for South Africa as the 24-year-old took 3-27 in his first appearance for England in the World Cup.
South Africa won the toss and elected to bowl first sending opening batsmen Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow to the crease in front of a packed crowd at The Oval in south London.
England got off to a disastrous start when Proteas leg spinner Imran Tahir found Bairstow’s edge with a flawless opening delivery which sent the Yorkshireman packing for a first-ball duck.
An admirable recovery from England then ensued with both Roy and Joe Root reaching half centuries with relative ease as the South African attack was silenced for 18 overs.
Both Roy and Root succumbed to the pace and accuracy of Kagiso Rabada and Andile Phelukwayo and were back in the club house after steadying the ship for the Three Lions with scores of 54 and 51 respectively.
Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes were then able to piece together a stand of over 100 runs without a wicket, showing the raw power both possess at the crease.
After Tahir removed the England captain for 57, Lungi Ngidi was then able to capitalise with two quick wickets, leaving England in trouble on 260-6, with just seven overs remaining.
Stokes continued to impress with a flurry of boundaries but eventually was caught by Ngidi whilst attempting a reverse scoop over third man which went straight to Hashim Amla.
Both Liam Plunkett and Jofra Archer hit crucial boundaries in the last two overs of the innings which saw England finish on 311-8 at a run rate of 6.24 per over.
South Africa Innings
South Africa began their run chase with openers Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock leading from the front and looked to take advantage of ideal batting conditions.
The ferocious pace bowling of Archer was clear to see from the off as South Africa’s top order struggled to make clean contact with his 90mph deliveries.
Amla took a blow to the head from a vicious bouncer and unfortunately had to leave the field with Aiden Markram taking his place.
De Kock was able to find a few gaps with some well timed boundaries off Chris Woakes but England limited the run rate with a well organised field.
Archer then struck first with a well placed delivery just outside off-stump that Markram edged straight to Joe Root at first slip.
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis was then dismissed for just five runs as Archer took his second scalp of the day with Moeen Ali making the catch at deep fine leg.
Rashid came into the attack and baffled de Kock with his first delivery, but when the ball clipped the stumps it failed to dislodge the bails which was just the slice of luck the Proteas needed.
De Kock would make England pay with a controlled half century that put South Africa in the driving seat after 18 overs.
Plunkett eventually took the vital wicket of de Kock who looked to strike a deep shot to backward square leg but picked out Joe Root on the spot. A strong score of 68 runs from the Proteas wicket keeper left the game in balance at the half way stage of the innings with all to play for in the next 25 overs.
Moeen Ali then made quick work of JP Duminy who mis-timed his shot and scooped straight to Ben Stokes at long-off.
A feared collapse looked on the cards for South Africa after Dwayne Pretorius was caught well short of the crease which once again displayed the Hawkeye accuracy of Ben Stokes from the field.
Van der Dussen steadied the ship with a sublime half century compiled of multiple boundaries off Ali and Rashid.
Archer struck again early in his second spell to dismiss Van der Dussen with another short ball which carried straight to Moeen Ali at mid-on.
Ben Stokes then took one of the all-time great catches in World Cup history, as he stopped a certain six from Phehlukwayo with his outstretched right hand whilst diving backwards and somehow came up with the ball in his hand.
Words can’t describe the athleticism shown by Stokes on this grab that will shown on highlight reels for years to come.
Stokes finished off the Proteas and took the final two wickets which sealed an impressive 104 run victory for England in their World Cup opener.