Skipper Eoin Morgan rued that a sluggish track did not allow them post a desired total but hailed the adaptability skills of his side, which thumped South Africa by a massive 104-run margin in the World Cup opener. Half centuries by Jason Roy (54), Joe Root (51), Morgan (57) and all-rounder Ben Stokes (89) helped the hosts post 311 for eight before they bundled South Africa for a paltry 207. “I think given the nature of the pitch and the way South Africa bowled, we were struggling with our plan A game with the bat for some time and that emphasised how slow the pitch was,” said Morgan. “You could not get away and we could not strike the ball like we would do for our plan A. One of the ways we have improved in the last two years is understanding conditions and we adapted really well here.”
The skipper felt even the 300-plus score was not enough. “We did not think we had enough runs but we thought we were on par. It is extremely pleasing. I would back us to lose four early wickets and still go at five an over. “We have been at 20-5 before and put a reasonable score on the board, fought to the end and believed we can still win. If we lose wickets then we will adapt.” South Africa began on a shaky note when veteran opener Hashim Amla was forced to retire hurt after being hit on the head. An excellent bowling spell by rookie Jofra Archer (3/27) and loss of wickets at regular intervals added to their woes. Morgan heaped praise on Stokes for starring in all three departments. Stokes returned with the figure of 2-12 before hitting 89 runs off 79 balls.
However, it was a sensational one-handed catch by Stokes near the boundary off Adil Rashid, to dismiss Andile Phehlukwayo that drew admiration. “He has had a full day out and when he does, it is entertaining. We see him do stuff like that in training all the time and you shake your head at it,” Morgan said. “He was at his best today. He misjudged it at the start. He ran in, stopped and I thought it was way over his head and then the leap. I have only seen a catch like that from AB de Villiers before for Bangalore (IPL side RCB). “I don’t know to describe it, it was unbelievable,” Morgan said.