South Africa captain AB de Villiers won the toss and elected to bat against England in the first Twenty20 international at Southampton on Wednesday.
England gave a debut to leg-spinner Mason Crane on his Hampshire home ground.
The 20-year-old Crane has impressed at county level during the past few seasons and in March he became the first overseas player to appear for Australian state side New South Wales in more than 30 years, following in the footsteps of Pakistan great Imran Khan.
Meanwhile Jason Roy made an international return after the Surrey opener was dropped for England's semi-final defeat by eventual winners Pakistan at Cardiff last week in the Champions Trophy one-day international tournament.
South Africa, beaten 2-1 by England in a recent ODI series, included two debutants in all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius and left-arm wrist-spinner Tabraiz Shamsi.
England, ahead of a Test series with South Africa, were resting several key players, in some cases to give them experience of pink-ball cricket in a round of County Championship matches designed to act as preparation for the team's inaugural day/night Test against the West Indies at Edgbaston in August.
Wednesday's fixture was the first of a three-match Twenty20 series.
England: Alex Hales, Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Eoin Morgan (capt), Jos Buttler (wkt), Sam Billings, Liam Dawson, Mason Crane, David Willey, Chris Jordan, Mark Wood
South Africa: Reeza Hendricks, Jon-Jon Smuts, AB de Villiers (capt), David Miller, Farhaan Behardien, Mangaliso Mosehle (wkt), Dwaine Pretorius, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Imran Tahir
Umpires: Tim Robinson (ENG), Rob Bailey (ENG)
TV umpire: Michael Gough (ENG)
Match referee: Andy Pycroft (ZIM)