The 2019 World Cup opener was off to a fiery start and hosts England were ready to prove why they are being tagged as the 'favourites'. Clinical in all departments, it was one player for England who stood out in the tournament opener, Ben Stokes. The all-rounder did put up an 'all-round' performance as he scored 89 runs and had figures of 2/12 with the ball, but what stood out, was the one-handed catch he took to dismiss Andile Phehlukwayo on Thursday in London.
Phehlukwayo played the slog sweep on Adil Rashid's delivery over mid-wicket and the connection sounded good till Stokes backed away and intervened mid-air, producing an absolutely blinding one-hand catch. He tracked back side on, timed his jump, threw his right arm high, and caught the ball while falling backwards. He rolled inside the midwicket boundary and came up with the ball safely in hand.
It was a moment of genius that had the near capacity crowd at the Oval roaring with delight on Thursday at the Cricket World Cup.
Stokes stood and basked in the applause, and waited with hands on hips while his England teammates rushed to congratulate him on a catch that former teammate Graeme Swann called "ridiculously audacious." Take a look.
Here's how people reacted to Stokes' catch which he described, as 'the claw'.
BEN STOKES. pic.twitter.com/sfgkhgcFID— Ben Duckett (@BenDuckett1) May 30, 2019
— Guy Morris (@Guy_Morris) May 30, 2019
WHAT. A. CATCH.— R. (@Roshanism_) May 30, 2019
Ben Stokes 🔥🔥🔥😱 pic.twitter.com/a781NJIoc1
Stokes top-scored with the bat with 89 as England put up 311-8, then helped to dismiss South Africa for 207 by taking the last two wickets with consecutive deliveries after taking two catches, the second of which will be replayed for years.
"I had a panic on for the catch, I was further in than I should have been. Luckily it stuck," Stokes said. "It was a regulation catch if I was in the right position.
"That feeling for about five seconds when I was facing the crowd and everyone was cheering, it was phenomenal."
Stokes' place in the lineup had been questioned by some in the buildup. Since he was involved in a late-night brawl in Bristol in September 2017, of which he was acquitted of affray last August, he hadn't been his old self in an England uniform. He averaged 49 with the bat, and took no wickets, but finally scored big this month in the series sweep of Pakistan.
On Thursday, he was outstanding.
"Ben Stokes has had a full day, his catch was absolutely outstanding," England captain Eoin Morgan said. "He is a match-winner and lifts everybody."