A solid all-round bowling performance, led by the pace of Thando Ntini, brought the South African U19s a 79-run win over England in Chester-le-Street with 10 overs to spare.
It was a welcome response after the young South Africans had been rolled over in the unofficial two-Test series, while it also set the tone for the remaining two ODIs.
The fact that South Africa was able to offer England a target of 229 ― after being put in to bat ― was due to the grit and determination shown by No 8 batsman Curtis Campher, playing his first match since the underwhelming effort against West Indies U19s in July last year.
His unbeaten 43 off 55 balls (three fours, one six) stabilised an innings that had lost its way after a good start, in which 137 runs were posted for the loss of three wickets. Many of those came from the 17-year-old debutant Jonathan Bird, who racked up an excellent 51 off 47 balls (eight fours, one six), with support from Sinethemba Qeshile (32).
But once Qeshile fell to the offbreak of Jordan Cook, one of four in the innings, the middle order wavered, although captain Wandile Makwetu tried to anchor it, ending with 39 off 63 balls. But South Africa fell from 137-3 to 166-7 until Campher dug in.
Defending a run-rate of just over 4.5, the bowlers stepped up with determination: Ntini struck with his first delivery and left-arm spinner Kgaudise Molefe, who opened the bowling, snapped up two in his second over to leave England reeling at 6-3.
Oliver Robinson fought a lone battle, to reach a hard-won fifty, until he too fell to Ntini, but at 99-6, there was no way back, despite the efforts of Luke Hollman (30), to delay the inevitable.
Ntini finished with 4-19 off eight overs, while Molefe and Jade de Klerk collected two apiece.
Photo: Ian Horrocks/Getty Images