To the enormous relief of all concerned South Africa resurrected their Champions Trophy campaign yesterday. The victory against New Zealand was routine and rather drab but it was the result, by five wickets, that mattered.
Had South Africa been beaten they would have gone out of the tournament, which would have considerably reduced home interest (probably to the level of zero) and the competition would have lost something, too. It rarely looked like happening. On a grimly tedious pitch, New Zealand made a mess of setting a decent target. A solid start was wasted when Martin Guptill fell and they were never quite in the hunt afterwards.
The spinners, Johan Botha and Roelof van der Merwe, were again parsimonious, but the more expensive Wayne Parnell was man of the match. He took 5 for 57, his best one-day figures, by pitching the ball up and moving it both ways.
All South Africa had to do was avoid unnecessary risk. The reply had its stuttering moments but they were anchored by AB de Villiers whose unbeaten 70 from 76 balls was expertly crafted. There has to be more to come and probably is. The Centurion pitch is becoming a serious concern. There are six more matches here including the final and increasing dullness awaits.