Hosts Bangladesh gave the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup a momentous start with a 43-run victory over defending champions South Africa in the opening Group A match.

Meanwhile, in a Group C fixture at the MA Aziz Stadium in Chittagong, Dan Lawrence and Jack Burnham hit centuries as title contenders England brushed aside Fiji by 299 runs.

Bangladesh elected to bat on a slow pitch at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong and lost wickets just when the batsmen appeared to have settled down and were restricted to 240 for seven in 50 overs.

Nazmul Hossain hit 73 off 82 balls to boost the total after useful contributions from Pinak Ghosh (43) and Joyraz Sheik (46).

The target proved too tough for South Africa, who were bowled out for 197 in the penultimate over despite a defiant 100 from opener Liam Smith.

Smith batted till the 45th over before being the seventh batsman out, caught superbly in the covers by Bangladesh captain Mehidy Hasan.

Mehidy, leading his nation in the second successive U19 World Cup, picked up three for 37 with his off-spin. Seamer Mohammad Saifuddin took three for 30.

It was Bangladesh’s first win over South Africa in the U19 World Cup following four previous defeats, but Wednesday’s victory was its 12th in 15 matches against the same opponents over the past two years.

With Scotland and Namibia the other sides in the group, the home team’s victory makes it the favourite to secure top place from Group A and avoid a possible quarter-final clash against Rahul Dravid-coached India.

Nazmul Hossain, who was named man of the match, said the slow wicket made their total a challenging target.

“The ball was not coming on to the bat, so we thought it was a good total,” said Nazmul. “I just wanted to bat as long as possible and hold one end up. But I was still a bit disappointed that we could not get another 20-odd runs.”

Nazmul insisted his team will not relax after beating South Africa.

“We can’t afford to relax or lose focus,” he said. “We have just put one game away but we must concentrate on the next match and then the next. In a tournament like this there is no room for comfort.”

South African captain Tony de Zorzi said Smith’s century was a great positive to come out from what was a disappointing defeat for his side.

"I think Smith played superbly,” said de Zorzi. “240 was certainly not a bad total to be chasing but we did not have wickets in hand. We lost the game in the second half. Hopefully we will do better in the next match.”

In their next matches in Cox’s Bazar on Sunday, Bangladesh will take on Scotland while South Africa will face Namibia.