Cardiff - It may be a step too far to say their Cricket World Cup is back on track, but the Proteas are at least moving in the right direction after securing a comfortable 9-wicket win over Afghanistan at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on Saturday. 

There had been fears throughout the week that rain would have the final say and South Africa would have to settle for another 'no result', but when Andile Phehlukwayo (17* off 17) hit the winning runs in the 29th over with a massive six, the Cardiff sun was baking down, turning one of the tournament's more intimate venues into a picture. 

The win, South Africa's first of the tournament, takes them to 3 points on the World Cup log after 5 matches played. 

Their semi-final hopes remain alive for now, but Wednesday's clash against New Zealand at Edgbaston - the venue of South Africa's 1999 World Cup heartache - has become D-day for the Proteas.

If they lose that match, South Africa's World Cup charge will almost certainly be over. 

That is a story for another day, though, and on this day the Proteas have finally given their fans something to celebrate. 

Having won the toss, skipper Faf du Plessis opted to bowl first and while it would prove to be the correct decision, the Proteas did not have it all their own way in the early stages. 

When rain forced the players off the field for the first time, Afghanistan had moved along quickly to 33/0 after just 5.5 overs. 

It was a solid base, but the underdogs could not build on it and the Proteas attack ultimately proved their class as they started to pick up wickets regularly. 

Leg-spinner Imran Tahir (4/29 in 7) was the chief destroyer for South Africa after having struck with two wickets in his first over, but there was more than able support from Chris Morris (3/13 in 6.1) and Andile Phehlukwayo (2/18 in 8). 

It was a frustrating day out for South Africa's main man, Kagiso Rabada, who finished with figures of 1/36 (8) having been on the receiving end of some attacking intent at either end of the Afghanistan innings through opener Hazratullah Zazai (22 off 23) and then a cameo from Rashid Khan (35 off 25). 

Afghanistan were bowled out for 125, but South Africa's target was revised to 127 because of the two rain stoppages that had shortened the contest to 48 overs per side. 

None of that mattered in the end, though, and the gulf in quality between the sides was evident throughout most of the fixture. 

In reply, South Africa were not troubled at all as they knocked off the runs for the loss of only a single wicket. 

While Quinton de Kock found his feet quickly, the run chase was an opportunity for Hashim Amla to bat himself into some kind of form, and the 36-year-old took his time getting in. 

When De Kock had bashed Khan over mid-wicket to bring up his second half-century of the tournament in the 17th over, Amla was on 19* (44) at the time. 

The rate picked up after that, and when De Kock was eventually out for 68 (72), South Africa had moved on to 104/1 in the 23rd over. 

Phehlukwayo was then brought in as a surprise No 3 by Du Plessis, and the all-rounder was comfortable in getting his side over the line without any further damage.

@LloydBurnard is in England covering the 2019 Cricket World Cup for Sport24 ...  

Scores in brief:

Afghanistan: 125 all out (Khan 35, Zadran 32, Tahir 4/29, Morris 3/13, Phehlukwayo 2/18)

SA 131/1 (De Kock 68, Amla 41*)

SA won by 9 wickets