| 1st Twenty20 international, Chester-le-Street |
| South Africa 119-3 (19 ovs) beat England 118-7 by seven wickets |
| Match scorecard |
After losing three early wickets, South Africa's Jacques Kallis (48 not out) and JP Duminy (47 not out) put on an unbeaten 90 for the fourth wicket.
Craig Kieswetter top-scored with 25 but Ravi Bopara made only six in England's third-lowest total in T20s.
After a disappointing batting performance in the final one-day international in midweek, poor shot selection, too many gambles and some good South African fielding left England struggling to post a decent score.
"Whether or not it's tough to find the boundary in the middle overs - I think that wicket was a bit like that, a bit sticky, a bit stoppy, and hard to know what a good score was - someone's got to put their hand up and try to bat through."
The eighth-wicket partnership between captain Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann was the most productive as they put on 33 runs to help the world champions reach 118-7.
The most worrying performance for the selectors was that of Bopara. Since pulling out of the second Test with South Africa for personal reasons, the Essex all-rounder has struggled with the bat.
In his last four England appearances the 27-year-old has scored just 22 runs and he added only six at Chester-le-Street, to raise questions over his place with the World Twenty20 starting in Sri Lanka next week.
He was also the most expensive of the bowlers going for 20 runs from just two overs.
Despite the low total England got off to a flying start with the ball as they got an early breakthrough in the second over.
Richard Levi was caught for eight, nicking Jade Dernbach to Swann in the slips.
Debutant Faf du Plessis was then out leg-before to Steven Finn for four before captain AB de Villiers was caught behind off the bowling of Dernbach.
But any hope was quickly extinguished as Kallis, restored to the team after being rested for the one-day series, and Duminy batted with ease.
The two sides are next in action on Monday, when they meet at Old Trafford from 18:30 BST.