South Africa lose to England in World Cup opener

South Africa will have to move on quickly from the drubbing it received in the World Cup opener against England and regroup themselves before its next game against Bangladesh, said captain Faf du Plessis. South Africa were thrashed by 104 runs by favourites England in the opening match of the ICC World Cup, which began at The Oval on Thursday. Asked to bat, England made 311 for eight and then bundled out the Proteas for 207.

Du Plessis admitted they were outplayed in all facets of the game by England. ‘You are going to play games and come up against opposition that are better than you. England beat us in all three facets of the game,’ Du Plessis said after the defeat.
‘As much as we are disappointed, we will want to learn from it quickly and put it to bed. We want to move on from it quickly.’ South Africa will face Bangladesh in its second match at The Oval on Sunday.

South Africa witnessed a bad start to its chase when veteran opener Hashim Amla was forced to retire hurt after being hit on the head. The right-hander later returned but by then Jofra Archer-led England bowling attack had already caused the damage.

‘The flow of the innings unfortunately started with Hashim coming off. When you are chasing a big score like 312, you need a good start to settle the dressing room,’ Du Plessis said. ‘A good start is really important. With him coming off, a few overs later Aiden (Markram) got out and then I got out. When you go three down, it becomes tough and the score looks big, it looks too far. ‘The pitch was good enough.’

Du Plessis backed his decision to start the innings with Imran Tahir in place of Kagiso Rabada and the ploy worked wonders as the leg-spinner got rid off Jonny Bairstow with the second delivery of the tournament. ‘It was a plan. It was something we first thought about a year ago. When we played against England, I thought we want to go with him because it is different,’ Du Plessis said.

‘At The Oval you want to bowl two seamers first but we went with what I thought was the best way to get a wicket. I went with my gut. Imran had not bowled with the new ball before so he had been practising that for the last two weeks. He knew he was going to do that,’ he added.

England’s Ben Stokes was adjudged as the man of the match for his all-round display. He first scored an unbeaten 89 in 79 balls and took the last two wickets in successive balls to finish off the South Africans, he also took an acrobatic catch to dismiss Andile Phehlukwayo off Adil Rashid.

Speaking after the match, the 27-year-old was grateful to be back in the spotlight for the right reasons. ‘The best thing about being an all rounder is you can influence the game pretty much the whole 100 overs. It is always nice when you can contribute to the team winning,’ he said. ‘The most pleasing thing is we have got the first game out of the way and winning like that. There were a few nerves knocking about, there definitely was for me as I have not felt like that in a long time.’

Tahir, first spinner to bowl first over
South Africa’s Imran Tahir became the first spinner to bowl the first over in a World Cup match during the tournament-opener against hosts England. South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis handed the ball to Tahir after winning the toss and the leg-spinner didn’t disappoint as he dismissed England opener Jonny Bairstow (0) in the second ball. Tahir deceived Bairstow with a googly as the opener ended up giving a catch to wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock without bothering the scorer.

In the 1992 World Cup, New Zealand off-spinner Dipak Patel had bowled the second over during a match against Australia. Tahir (40 years and 64 days) also became the oldest South African to play in a World Cup match. The previous record was held by his compatriot Omar Henry (40 years and 39 days). Henry was picked to play against Sri Lanka in Wellington during the 1992 World Cup.