Cape Town - The Proteas needed someone on Wednesday to score a ton and propel the team to victory, according to opening batsman Hashim Amla.
The Proteas fell short by 72 runs at Leeds in the first of three ODIs against England.
After the early loss of opener Quinton de Kock (5), Amla and Faf du Plessis stablised the innings with a second-wicket stand of 112.
"We were pretty much on target," Amla told reporters in Headingley.
"We had a few vague targets in mind and fortunately the partnership (with Faf du Plessis) kind of kept us in the game until the 25th over."
Amla top scored for the Proteas making 73 off 76 balls (8 fours), while Du Plessis continued his impressive form scoring 67 off 61 deliveries (8 fours).
The Proteas were in a slight panic thereafter, as Amla was trapped lbw by Mark Wood before Du Plessis followed his team-mate to the change room the following over when he nicked a Liam Plunkett delivery to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler.
"Unfortunately neither of us managed to get through to score a hundred, which makes it easier for the batsmen coming in lower down the order, and (Faf and I) both got out in quick succession," said Amla.
Skipper AB de Villiers and JP Duminy's attempted to resurrect the innings, but found it difficult to convert starts to substantial innings, as the Proteas lost their way.
England skipper Eoin Morgan led from the front when he blasted 107 off 93 balls (7 fours, 5 sixes) and shared a 117 sixth-wicket partnership with Moeen Ali (77*) to take the home side to a competitive 339.
"In any ODI, if someone gets a hundred it's going to propel you to a big total, especially if you bat lower down the order," said Amla.
"His (Morgan) innings was certainly a game changer, as well as Moeen Ali's 70-odd helped England to get 30 more runs that we expected."
The second ODI between England and South Africa gets underway on Saturday at Southampton (12:00 SA time).