Irrespective of what happened in Birmingham yesterday in the derby-like clash between India and Pakistan, all roads will lead to London for the Proteas.
They had to do it the hard way but they finally had the rub of the green in terms of the Duckworth-Lewis method,
What was pleasing about their performance was the intensity with which they went about their business.
AB de Villiers’ men will only know today or tomorrow who they will face at the Oval on Wednesday because of all the yo-yoing going on in Group A.
But today’s New Zealand vs England match in Cardiff and tomorrow’s Australia vs Sri Lanka clash in London are straight knockout matches.
The losers, barring Australia who still have to face the English in the Ashes test series from July onwards, will be on their way home.
The portents for Sri Lanka, New Zealand and England are better as they have wins to their name and have positive net run rates.
It was a positive run rate that worked in South Africa’s favour because when they lost to India, they narrowed the losing margin to 26 runs, while batting out their full 50 overs.
Against Pakistan, they won handsomely with runs and overs to spare.
Australia is still in with a shout, but should rain play a part in either fixture, they have the most to lose as they are winless, with their only points coming from the Edgbaston washout against New Zealand.
The Proteas will face whoever finishes first in Group A.
They are still not a team to be feared but the effervescence and the free spirit with which they approached their batting on Friday will have to be taken seriously.
The perennially wet conditions and the excellent batting track at Swalec Stadium made life difficult for bowlers but nothing must be taken away from the superb batting effort put up by the Proteas.
It’s not often they career along at 7 runs to an over, but when it was required of them, the Proteas rose to the challenge.
Impressively, it was the junior players, Colin Ingram and David Miller, who provided the impetus while the senior players were content to stay in their slipstream.
Suggesting the Proteas could win this tournament is tantamount to jinxing them but should they find the collective mental strength to do so, they could look back on Friday’s game as the catalyst.
They will need to repeat their performance again on Wednesday on a pitch that suits them better.
What they have contributed, though, is some wonderful cricket, in what is turning out to be the best ICC tournament ever.
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