Ben Stokes starred in all departments as England began its quest with a 104-run thrashing of South Africa in the tournament opener at the Oval on Thursday.
The all-rounder top-scored with 89 in England’s 311 for eight, held a brilliant catch in the outfield and took two for 12 as England won with 61 balls left. Jofra Archer did the early damage, the fast bowler taking three for 27 in seven overs.
Barbados-born Archer made his presence felt, even before he had taken a wicket, with a bouncer that beat Hashim Amla for pace and crashed into the grille of the helmet to make the veteran opener retire hurt on five.
Archer then reduced the Proteas to 44 for two as Aiden Markram edged to Joe Root at slip and South Africa captain Faf du Plessis fell for just five when he top-edged a hook.
But Quinton de Kock kept the Proteas in the hunt, although he was lucky when on 25 he played a ball from leg-spinner Adil Rashid onto his stumps only for the bails to stay put. The left-hander holed out off fast bowler Liam Plunkett for 68.
Rassie van der Dussen then made exactly 50 without pressing on before miscuing Archer to mid-on. His exit saw Amla return with South Africa struggling at 167 for six in the 32nd over.
The game was all but up for South Africa when a back-pedalling and diving Stokes held a brilliant one-handed catch in the deep to dismiss Andile Phehlukwayo.
Amla’s brave effort to rescue the innings ended on 13 when he was caught behind off Plunkett’s slower-ball bouncer and Stokes finished the match when Imran Tahir edged him to Root.
Earlier, Stokes was one of four England batsmen who got to 50 on a tricky surface along with captain Eoin Morgan (57), Jason Roy (54) and Root (51) all out soon after reaching the landmark.
du Plessis, who opted to field, took the unorthodox decision to give leg-spinner Tahir the first over. The 40-year-old struck second ball when Jonny Bairstow was caught behind for a golden duck.
Roy and Root repaired the damage but were dismissed in quick succession to leave England at 111 for three. After Morgan had done his bit, left-hander Stokes played sensibly before being dismissed in the penultimate over by Ngidi, who finished with three for 66.
Jason Roy c du Plessis b Phehlukwayo 54 (53b, 8×4), Jonny Bairstow c de Kock b Tahir 0 (1b), Joe Root c Duminy b Rabada 51 (59b, 5×4), Eoin Morgan c Markram b Tahir 57 (60b, 4×4, 3×6), Ben Stokes c Amla b Ngidi 89 (79b, 9×4), Jos Buttler b Ngidi 18 (16b), Moeen Ali c du Plessis b Ngidi 3 (9b), Chris Woakes c du Plessis b Rabada 13 (14b, 1×4), Liam Plunkett (not out) 9 (6b, 1×4), Jofra Archer (not out) 7 (3b, 1×4); Extras (lb-2, w-8): 10; Total (for eight wkts. in 50 overs): 311.
FALL OF WICKETS
1-1 (Bairstow, 0.2 overs), 2-107 (Roy, 18.4), 3-111 (Root, 19.1), 4-217 (Morgan, 36.5), 5-247 (Buttler, 41.2), 6-260 (Moeen, 43.6), 7-285 (Woakes, 47.3), 8-300 (Stokes, 48.6).
SOUTH AFRICA BOWLING
Tahir 10-0-61-2, Ngidi 10-0-66-3, Rabada 10-0-66-2, Pretorius 7-0-42-0, Phehlukwayo 8-0-44-1, Duminy 2-0-14-0, Markram 3-0-16-0.
Quinton de Kock c Root b Plunkett 68 (74b, 6×4, 2×6), Hashim Amla c Buttler b Plunkett 13 (23b, 1×4), Aiden Markram c Root b Archer 11 (12b, 2×4), Faf du Plessis c Moeen b Archer 5 (7b, 1×4), Rassie van der Dussen c Moeen b Archer 50 (61b, 4×4, 1×6), Jean-Paul Duminy c Stokes b Moeen 8 (11b, 1×4), Dwaine Pretorius run out 1 (1b), Andile Phehlukwayo c Stokes b Rashid 24 (25b, 4×4), Kagiso Rabada c Plunkett b Stokes 11 (19b, 2×4), Lungi Ngidi (not out) 6 (5b, 1×6), Imran Tahir c Root b Stokes 0 (1b); Extras (b-4, lb-5, w-1):10; Total (in 39.5 overs): 207.
FALL OF WICKETS
1-36 (Markram, 7.4 overs), 2-44 (du Plessis, 9.3), 3-129 (de Kock, 22.6), 4-142 (Duminy, 25.5), 5-144 (Pretorius, 26.2), 6-167 (van der Dussen, 31.5), 7-180 (Phehlukwayo, 34.1), 8-193 (Amla, 38.1), 9-207 (Rabada, 39.4).
Woakes 5-0-24-0, Archer 7-1-27-3, Rashid 8-0-35-1, Moeen 10-0-63-1, Plunkett 7-0-37-2, Stokes 2.5-0-12-2.
Toss: South Africa.
England won by 104 runs