Ben Stokes made an immediate impact in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 with his brilliant all-round show. His 89 helped England reach a score in excess of 300 for the first time against South Africa in World Cups. He took a brilliant catch to dismiss Andile Phehlukwayo and took two wickets as England registered a brilliant 104-run win against South Africa at The Oval. Stokes was given good support from Jason Roy, Eoin Morgan and Joe Root who smashed fifties and were well backed up by the bowlers. Jofra Archer, who has been earmarked for great things, gave a glimpse of his supreme talent by bowling with pace and hostility to take 3/27 as England made a big statement in the tournament opener.
South Africa inserted England in and the hosts started disastrously with the in-form Jonny Bairstow dismissed for a golden duck. Faf du Plessis bucked the World Cup trend by bringing on a spinner to bowl the first over. Imran Tahir wrote down the record against his name, and only two balls later he was seen celebrating in the fashion he does after getting Bairstow caught by Quinton de Kock.
That brought Joe Root to the crease, who along with Jason Roy hammered the opposition bowlers all-around the ground to string a partnership of 106 runs together. The right-handers ensured to not allow Proteas to take the game away from them as they set the pace with regular boundaries and smart running between the wickets. England breached the 100-run mark in the 18th over, but they suffered a double blow almost immediately after. Roy (54) fell to a short ball from Andile Phehlukwayo while Root (51) perished to Kagiso Rabada caught at point.
Eoin Morgan and all-rounder Ben Stokes kept England's momentum going with another hundred-run stand. With two left-handers at the crease, du Plessis used Markram and JP Duminy's off-breaks to try and tie them down, but they fell short by some margin as the duo was able to show their class. In the course of his knock, Morgan became the first England player to score 7000 ODI runs. Stokes, on the other hand, started calmly but opened up at the right time, hitting Dwaine Pretorius for three fours in the 36th over and bringing up his fifty. The partnerships were looking good and du Plessis brought back Tahir, who didn’t disappoint his captain and had Morgan caught by Aiden Markram at long on for 57.
South Africa realised the need to cut down the pace to the batsmen in order to make strokeplay difficult. Lungi Ngidi, who had leaked runs until then, came back for a much stronger third spell. He used cutters to good effect and was rewarded with the big wicket of Jos Buttler, who inside edged a pull onto his stumps. Ngidi picked three crucial wickets in his quota of 10 overs and turned out to be the most successful bowler for South Africa.
Stokes was the glue that held the second half of the innings together, but even he could not freely find the boundary as South Africa employed the slower ball regularly. In the end, England finished with their highest score in World Cups against South Africa.
In the chase, South Africa was off to a cautious start as both Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock saw the initial overs of Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer before opening their arms. Archer bowled a short of a length delivery and Amla got hit on the helmet. Post this, he walked back to the pavilion, which led Markram to join Quinton de Kock.
The duo was looking good at the start but Markram couldn’t continue for long and got a thick nip which went straight to the slip fielder, who didn’t do any mistake. South Africa continued to lose wickets and also their grip on the game. Quinton de Kock was the lone survivor, who gave some hopes to the Proteas. However, once he departed in the 23rd over, South Africa never recovered. The wickets kept tumbling for the team, and eventually, they fell short by 104 runs. In the end, the World Cup has got off to perfect start, with England showing their home dominance.