Cardiff — The pressure of having gone four matches without a win at the 2019 World Cup was weighing heavily on Proteas captain Faf du Plessis , but Saturday's nine-wicket win over Afghanistan in Cardiff has got the South Africans moving in the right direction.
The semi-finals are still a long way away, but the Proteas are at least up and running.
"Very relieved and a little bit lighter," was Du Plessis' assessment of his own emotions following the result.
It may have been against the least accomplished side at the World Cup, but Saturday's performance did serve as a reminder that the Proteas are not a team that should be languishing near the foot of the World Cup table.
The Proteas have now moved up to 7th on the table, and Wednesday's clash against New Zealand at Edgbaston has become massive.
If the Proteas lose that match, they will surely be eliminated from the World Cup before the playoffs.
South Africa bowled Afghanistan opposition all out for 125 and cantered to their target with just one wicket down, and that clinical nature of the performance will no doubt give this struggling squad an injection of belief as they move ahead into the business end of their campaign.
"We needed to be solid," Du Plessis added.
"We're showing signs of good cricket but we're showing other signs of inconsistency.
"Today was an opportunity for us to put our peg in the ground with a solid performance in all departments, and I thought we did that.
"We bowled really well and we were really clinical in chasing the score down.
"I think in all our cricket today was much better. We spoke a lot about energy in the field and that was really good to see."
Du Plessis had special praise for allrounders Chris Morris (3/13) and Andile Phehlukwayo (2/18), but it was man-of-the-match Imran Tahir (4/29) who stole the show.
"I was really pleased with the bowlers and once again Andile and Chris were very good in the middle there. The two of them are starting to put in some consistent performances for us with the ball now," said Du Plessis.
"Imran is always special, especially on a wicket like that where it is not suited to spinners. It was an amazing bowling performance."
@LloydBurnard is in England covering the 2019 Cricket World Cup for Sport24 ...