England's Ali still wary of South Africa

England's one-day series against South Africa gets under way at Headingley on Wednesday against a backdrop of increased security, sombre reflection and a touring side with "genuine concerns" but no plans to head home.

Eoin Morgan wants to play his strongest team in all three games and certainly at the Ageas Bowl tomorrow, where England can clinch a series victory that would strengthen their position as favourites to win the Champions Trophy, which starts next week.

All-rounder Stokes, making his return to the side after his MVP-winning turn in the Indian Premier League, left the field during the second innings after experiencing pain in his left knee and, though he later returned to the field, he did not add to his two overs.

"It doesn't get any better than playing in England before a big tournament against the hosts in a competitive ODI series", he explained.

Morgan went to his ton in the 45th, which leaked 22 runs and saw him smash Imran Tahir for three sixes.

Any suggestion that Stokes might be a doubt for the Champions Trophy would be a seismic blow for England. "He was very calm and composed in what he did, gave himself some time at the crease and was able to take the game to South Africa at the end".

Du Plessis followed Amla in the next over, off Liam Plunkett, giving wicketkeeper Jos Buttler one of his four catches.

"It was the best way we could have started, a very good day at the office and a pretty complete performance", he said.

"I had a chat with him, and he helped - and I felt in a good rhythm going into this match".

Amla brought up his 32nd ODI half century with a flick to fine leg and Du Plessis then punched Stokes for four through mid-wicket before the England all-rounder went off for treatment on a knee injury.

"England played phenomenally well with the bat, credit to Morgs for the hundred", said de Villiers.

Asked how happy he is that he picked Moeen Ali, Morgan said: "You know what, if we didn't get many runs or wickets I probably would have still picked him".

Duminy and Miller both heaved short balls out to a lone fielder on the ropes, to general bemusement, while Morris botched a reverse sweep off Moeen.

Morgan's 107 against South Africa on Wednesday was his third ODI hundred in 2017, taking his tally to 491 from nine innings with an average of 54.55 and he admitted he hadn't had quite as consistent a run in ODIs for a while.

He holed out off Morris soon afterwards but Ali kept up the attack as England plundered 102 runs in the last 10 overs.

  • Julie Sanders