Chester-le-Street - South Africa captain AB de Villiers won the toss and elected to field in the first Twenty20 international against England at on Saturday.
World Twenty20 champions England, who defend their title in Sri Lanka later this month, were unchanged from the side that won their last Twenty20 match, by seven wickets against the West Indies at Trent Bridge in June.
That meant there was no place for seamer Tim Bresnan, out with an elbow injury, while fast bowler Steven Finn, who missed Wednesday's defeat by South Africa in Nottingham in the fifth and final one-day international with a stiff back, returned to England duty.
Alex Hales, who scored an England-best 99 against the West Indies, retained his place as Kevin Pietersen's international exile continued.
Pace bowling all-rounder Stuart Broad, England's Twenty20 captain, and off-spinner Graeme Swann, both rested during the one-day series, were recalled.
South Africa, the world's top-ranked Twenty20 team, omitted in-form batsman Hashim Amla, who during the preceding Test and one-day series scored a mammoth combined 817 runs at 116.71, and gave a Twenty20 debut to Faf du Plessis.
Short-form specialists Richard Levi and Albie Morkel were also included for the first of a three-match series while star all-rounder Jacques Kallis returned after being rested during the one-dayers which ended all square at 2-2.
England: Craig Kieswetter (wkt), Alex Hales, Ravi Bopara, Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler, Jonathan Bairstow, Samit Patel, Stuart Broad (capt), Graeme Swann, Steven Finn, Jade Dernbach
South Africa: Richard Levi, Jacques Kallis, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers (capt/wkt), JP Duminy, Justin Ontong, Albie Morkel, Johan Botha, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe
Umpires: Peter Hartley (ENG) and Michael Gough (ENG)
TV umpire: Richard Illingworth (ENG)
Match referee: Andy Pycroft (ZIM)