The Proteas’ World Cup campaign started in typically frustrating fashion on Thursday after a batting collapse saw them go down by 104 runs to England at The Oval in London.
Having done quite well to restrict the hosts to 311/8 in their 50 overs, South Africa’s innings was shaky almost from the beginning.
Hashim Amla copped a bouncer on his helmet grille from new England pace sensation Jofra Archer and was forced to retired hurt on five.
That affected the entire momentum of the run-chase, as it meant Aiden Markram would come in earlier than expected.
The Titans star played a couple of classy shots, but once again failed to build on it as he pushed hard outside off at Archer, and was caught at slip for 11.
While Quinton de Kock was going well at the other end, captain Faf du Plessis was as impatient as Markram had been.
With Archer bowling quicker by the over, Du Plessis decided to take on a bouncer, which saw him sky the ball to Moeen Ali on the boundary for five.
At 44/2 in the 10th over, the Proteas looked down and out, but De Kock and Rassie van der Dussen showed all their class in going about their business.
They put the bad balls away, and worked the England fielders around the vast Oval outfield to put on 85 for the third wicket.
But just when it seemed as if the South Africans were laying the foundation for victory, De Kock lost his cool, chasing a Liam Plunkett delivery down the leg-side and hitting straight at Joe Root at fine leg for a fine 68 off 74 balls (6x4, 2x6).
That is when disaster struck, as first JP Duminy lofted Moeen Ali to Ben Stokes for eight, and then Dewald Pretorius was run out by Stokes for one in coming back for an ill-advised second run.
The Proteas lost four wickets for the addition of 38 runs, and were virtually out of the running.
Archer struck again by removing the composed Van der Dussen for 50 (61 balls, 4x4, 1x6) to end any hopes of a comeback.
Andile Phehlukwayo hit a couple of hefty blows, but he perished to an incredible diving catch by Stokes on the boundary for 24.
By the time Amla returned to the crease, it was too late as the Proteas were bowled out for 207 in 39.5 overs.
Archer ended with 3/27, while Stokes and Plunkett took two wickets each.
Stokes starred with the bat as well, stroking 89 off 79 balls in a superb innings mixed with boundaries and clever placement.
The England all-rounder was well supported by captain Eoin Morgan (57), Jason Roy (54) and Joe Root (51) after Du Plessis won the toss and chose to bowl first on a good pitch.
Lungi Ngidi claimed 3/66 in 10 overs, while Kagiso Rabada and Imran Tahir took two wickets apiece.
The South Africans are next in action against Bangladesh at The Oval on Sunday.@ashfakmohamed