England captain Kevin Pietersen and allrounder Andrew Flintoff ran riot for England in the opening one-day international against South Africa on Friday, smashing a 158-run partnership in a total of 275-4.
Pietersen hit an unbeaten 90 in just 82 balls while Flintoff scored a lusty 78 in just 70 deliveries before being bowled by Dale Steyn in the last over to set South Africa a difficult target in the day-night international. England scored 94 runs in the last 10 overs.
Batting after Pietersen won the toss on a cool day in northern England, South Africa pace bowlers Steyn and Makhaya Ntini tied down openers Ian Bell and Matt Prior. Bell and pinch-hitter Prior put on 77 for the first wicket but it took them almost 20 overs as the bowlers took the pace off the ball.
South Africa, already triumphant in a test series in England, can overtake Australia at top of the world one-day rankings if they win the England series 4-1.
Bell was first to fall for 35, caught high in the air by A.B. de Villiers at point off the bowling of medium pacer Jacques Kallis. Prior had just struck Kallis for six two overs later before slicing the next ball, de Villiers again taking the catch.
Prior, back in the England team after a yearlong absence, scored 42, surviving a dropped catch by Vernon Philander.
Kallis had taken 2-25 from five overs, South Africa's best bowling, but left the field during the England innings with an apparent thigh injury. He returned but did not bowl again.
England looked in trouble when Owais Shah top-edged a sweep to Philander at deep square leg off the bowling of spinner Johan Botha. At 113-3 after 28 overs, a low total looked likely on an evenly paced Headingley wicket. Shah had scored just 12 in a 27-run partnership with Pietersen.
But then Pietersen and Flintoff, two of cricket's biggest hitters, came together. The South African-born captain survived two strong lbw appeals early in his innings but both batsmen grew in confidence. Pietersen did not a boundary in his first 52 balls.
Andre Nel was hit for 53 from his 10 overs and Steyn took one for 67 from his 10 overs.
Steve Harmison came out of international retirement to replace injured bowler Ryan Sidebottom. The 29-year-old Harmison initially retired from ODIs in December 2006 after being left out of England's squad for a series with Australia and New Zealand.
South Africa fast bowler Morne Morkel was ruled out of the match with a side strain, while his older brother Albie Morkel has a shoulder problem. Andre Nel and allrounder Vernon Philander came in as replacements.