• Tuesday, May 28, 2024


England bowl first on Stokes return

England have made a poor start to their title defence, losing twice in three games

England’s Ben Stokes reacts during the match. REUTERS/Andrew Boyers

By: Pramod Thomas

BEN STOKES returned for faltering champions England on Saturday (21) as they made three changes before skipper Jos Buttler opted to field in a crunch World Cup clash against South Africa.

The star all-rounder, who made 84 in England’s 2019 World Cup final win, is playing his first game of the tournament following a hip injury.

In his absence, England have made a poor start to their title defence, losing twice in three games — including a shock 69-run defeat by Afghanistan last time out in Delhi on Sunday.

Stokes, left-arm quick David Willey and fast bowler Gus Atkinson — who has played just five senior ODI matches — were recalled in place of all-rounder Liam Livingstone, left-arm seamer Sam Curran and struggling paceman Chris Woakes.

“We’ll bowl first as generally it is a good ground for chasing,” said Buttler, who has played at the Wankhede Stadium for the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.

He added: “The changes in the team are a little bit of health and a little bit ground dependent. We need to be true to ourselves and commit to our brand of cricket.”

South Africa were forced into making a late change when captain Temba Bavuma was ruled out through illness, with Aiden Markram now leading the Proteas. Reeza Hendricks replaced opening batsman Bavuma at the top of the order.

“Tembs has pulled up ill, he’s tried to pull through,” said Markram. “We will miss him today. It is very unfortunate how it has happened but it is a big opportunity for Reeza today.”

Another loss would leave England struggling to qualify for the semi-finals.

They face a South Africa side also looking to rebound from a shock 38-run defeat by non-Test nation the Netherlands which followed wins over Australia and Sri Lanka.


England: Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Harry Brook, Jos Buttler (capt/wkt), David Willey, Adil Rashid, Gus Atkinson, Mark Wood, Reece Topley

South Africa: Quinton de Kock (wkt), Reeza Hendricks, Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram (capt), Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Marco Jansen, Kagiso Rabada, Keshav Maharaj, Gerald Coetzee, Lungi Ngidi


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