South Africa will require 312 runs for victory in the opening match of the ICC Cricket World Cup in England and Wales.
The Proteas, who won the toss and put England in to bat at the Oval in London, restricted their host to 311 for the loss of eight wickets in their 50 overs.
Opening batsman Jason Roy, Joe Root and captain Eoin Morgan scored half centuries, but it was Ben Stokes who was the glue that held the England innings together. He top scored with 89 off 79 deliveries.
Lungi Ngidi took 3 for 66 in his 10 overs, but Andile Phehlukwayo was by far the most economical of the bowlers. His eight overs only cost him 44 runs, while he took the wicket of Roy.
South African captain Faf du Plessis made a bold decision to bowl first after winning the toss bolder still however was his choice to give leg-spinner Imran Tahir the first over.
His tactical twist paid immediate dividends as Tahir had opener Johnny Bairstow caught behind for a duck with only his second delivery.
But England who starts the tournament as the top ranked ODI side in the world quickly recovered as the Proteas bowlers kept their lengths a touch too short to trouble the hosts.
Joe Root and Jason Roy both coasted to half-centuries as they shared in a 106-run second wicket partnership.
It was seamer Andile Phehlukwayo who eventually made the much needed breakthrough for the visitors — dismissing Roy for 54.
Kagiso Rabada pitched in with the wicket of Root for 51 in the next over and the hosts were pinned back, having to rebuild from 111 for three.
But again the hosts recovery was swift.
Captain Eoin Morgan led from the front with a run-a-ball half century, partnering Ben Stokes in another 106-run fourth wicket stand.
Stokes also punished the Proteas bowlers, notching up a half-century of his own from just 45 deliveries, soon after.
Tahir returned to the attack in the middle overs, taking the crucial wicket of England’s skipper for 57, but the homeside wasn’t in any real danger on 217 for four in the 37th over.
Seamer Lungi Ngidi — who was dispatched to all parts of the ground — rallied to take two wickets in consecutive overs – further reducing England to 260 for six – with six overs remaining.
The Proteas attack did well to slow down the scoring rate in the dying overs, but they were not able to stop a determined England from breaching the 300 mark.
They eventually scored a competitive 311 for the loss of eight wickets in their 50 overs.