Imran Tahir does his trademark celebration after he dismissed England captain Eoin Morgan, thanks to a fine catch by Aiden Markram. Photo: Action Images via Reuters

The Proteas will be relatively pleased in restricting England to 311/8 in the World Cup opener at The Oval in London on Thursday.

Lungi Ngidi took three wickets, while Imran Tahir and Kagiso Rabada claimed two wickets each, but it was the impressive fielding by the South Africans that stood out.

After captain Faf du Plessis won the toss and elected to bowl first, the visitors struck with the second ball of the innings as spinner Tahir – who surprisingly opened the bowling – found the outside edge of Jonny Bairstow’s bat, and Quinton de Kock took a fine catch.

Jason Roy and Joe Root then took control, putting on 106 for the second wicket in 18 overs, and it looked like it was going to be a long day for the South Africans.

But they hit back with two wickets in three balls, with Andile Phehlukwayo producing a loose shot out of Roy (54 off 53 balls, 8x4) and Rabada luring Root into a drive outside off for 51 (59 balls, 5x4).

That probably ensured that the Proteas will chase a target below 350, even though Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes then came together to put pressure on the bowlers.

England captain Morgan was the initial aggressor, hitting three sixes in his knock of 57. But he was undone by Tahir, with Aiden Markram – who was picked ahead of David Miller – taking a fine diving catch at long-on.

Suddenly the English were 217/4 in the 37th over, and they never really got their momentum going after that, as the South Africans kept chipping away.

While Stokes was in splendid touch at the one end, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes fell cheaply, with Du Plessis’ diving effort to dismiss Ali at long-on the best catch of the innings.

Ngidi (3/66 in 10 overs) eventually got rid of Stokes for a superb 89 off 79 balls (9x4).

South Africa, though, will have to bat well to reach the 312-run winning target on a pitch that does sometime offer variable bounce.

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