English all-rounder Ben Stokes starred in all departments as the hosts began their ICC World Cup 2019 campaign with a 104-run win over South Africa in the tournament opener at The Oval, on Thursday.
Fast bowler Jofra Archer also shone as he took three Proteas wickets for 27 runs in his seven overs. Barbados-born Archer, who qualified to play for England in March, made his first mark with a bouncer that saw veteran opener Hashim Amla retired hurt on five. Archer then went on to take two wickets on quick sucession which reduced South Africa to 44-2. His first victim was Aiden Markram who edged one to Joe Root at slip. Next to pavilion was the South African skipper Faf du Plesis who misjudged a bouncer from Archer and edged it to fine-leg where Moeen Ali grabbed the ball.
But, wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock kept the Proteas on hunt as he went on to score a half-century in 58 balls. Earlier, he was lucky when he played on an Adil Rashid delivery onto his stumps only for the bails to stay intact. However, batting at 68 his luck did not support him for the second time as he, trying to flick a Liam Plunkett delivery, hit it to Joe Root. Rassie van der Dussen then make exactly 50 without pressing on when he miscued Archer to mid-on. His exit saw Amla return with South Africa struggling at 167 for six in the 32nd over. But to the despair, of South African fans, their team collapsed with only 207 in board.
As the hosts completed an easy victory in their bid to win their first World Cup, this game had Ben Stokes written all over it. The all-rounder shone with the bat as he became the highest scorer for his team with a solid 89. But the highlight of the match has to be the brilliant one-handed catch that saw Stokes back-pedalling and diving in deep mid-wicket to dismiss Andile Phehlukwayo.
The English batsmen during their innings put up a new record in World Cup when four of them scored more than 50 runs in one innings. The earlier record was of 1975 Prudential Cup which had seen three English batsmen scoring above-50 in an innings against India.
Sout Africa, after asking the ‘Three Lions’ to bat first, started nicely as Imran Tahir had removed Jonny Bairstow in just the second ball of the first over. But, Joe Root and Jason Roy built the English innings as both the batsmen scored half-centuries with captain Morgan also playing his role with a gritty 57. Rightly so, Ben Stokes was awarded Man of the Match for his all-round performance.
(With inputs from PTI)