Eoin Morgan struck his 11th ODI century and the returning Chris Woakes claimed four wickets as England continued their Champions Trophy preparations and opened a three-match one-day series against number-one ranked South Africa with an impressive 72-run victory at Headingley on Wednesday (24 May).
The captain was in fine fettle, hitting a superb 107 to help the hosts, who welcomed back key trio Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Woakes from IPL duty, recover from the early loss of Jason Roy and finish their innings on 339-6. Moeen Ali smashed 77 off just 51 deliveries and together the pair put on a sixth-wicket stand of 117 after Alex Hales and Joe Root had added 98 between them.
In the subsequent chase, South Africa lost the explosive Quinton de Kock for just five after a determined diving catch from wicket-keeper Buttler.
Hashim Amla appeared in typically graceful form, but his impressive display came to an end on 73 following a successful lbw appeal from Morgan and Mark Wood. The Proteas then lost Faf du Plessis in the very next over after he edged a Liam Plunkett delivery behind. Together, the pair had combined for 112.
With all the time in the world to punish short balls from Adil Rashid and Woakes respectively, JP Duminy and David Miller both gave their wickets away cheaply by inexplicably picking out deep leg side fielders.
Such a costly collapse only got worse when Chris Morris, straight after hitting Moeen for four, attempted a reverse sweep and watched on in horror as the ball skipped up and comfortably into the waiting gloves of Buttler.
Much now rested on the shoulders of the world's number one ODI batsman, AB de Villiers, who missed tour wins over Sussex and Northamptonshire due to illness. He began to warm up nicely and was five short of a half-ton when he found Plunkett stationed at deep mid-wicket.
Victory now seemed almost guaranteed for England. Andile Phehlukwayo survived an lbw appeal, but then missed an attempted sweep of Rashid and was bowled around his legs. A rare drop from Stokes on the boundary handed Wayne Parnell a reprieve and he and Kagiso Rabada set about trying to make things at least a little interesting.
South Africa required 74 runs from the final six overs. However, any hopes of a truly miraculous late turnaround were extinguished when Wood claimed Parnell's high edge and Rabada nicked behind to Buttler.
The only negative for England came with an injury to Stokes, who left the field for treatment on a sore knee during South Africa's innings. He did return to the outfield and Morgan and coach Trevor Bayliss will hope that it is nothing too serious ahead of the Champions Trophy.
With England leading 1-0, the second match in the series takes place at the Ageas Bowl in Hampshire on Saturday (27 May). Proceedings are scheduled to conclude at Lord's two days later.