Hosts and favourites England and the experienced and wiley outsiders South Africa have got the 2019 Cricket World Cup off to a fantastic start.
The South African captain Faf Du Plessis said before the match that they were free to play with less pressure as the weight of expectation was less than at previous World Cups.
And it was Chennai Super Kings strike bowler Imran Tahir who got the Proteas off to a fantastic start. In just the second ball of the tournament, he took with wicket of Jonny Bairstow with a beautifully-flighted leg spin delivery which was caught behind by De Kock.
But England then rebuilt their innings twice with a pair of 100 partnerships. The first was by Joe Root and Jason Roy. After two South African wickets in quick succession, the second 100-run stand came from Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes. All four of the aforementioned bowlers made half-centuries.
England then looked like they would reach a total of 350 plus. But South Africa bowled incredibly intelligently. Whenever England looked like they were about to push on, South Africa took timely wickets to stifle the hosts’ progress.
Ben Stokes who has received his fair share of criticism, rose to the occasion and proved that he is a leader in this team. He top-scored with 89 and this was one of his most-accomplished innings for England for a long time.
This was the result of shrewd adjustments and adaptations made by the South African skipper and bowlers. The Proteas bowlers, particularly Lungi Ngidi, made effective use of the slower ball, to take wickets. Despite struggling early on, he was very impressive in his final two spells. He finished with figures of 3-66.
At the half-time stage, the game is very much even. South Africa will be very pleased that they limited England to 311-8. However, even though the pitch at the Oval is flat, the pitch is a little sluggish which might make it difficult for South Africa to score, and thus make England slight favourites.
Images courtesy of the ICC Cricket World Cup Twitter account