Cardiff - Hashim Amla struggled against Afghanistan in Cardiff on Saturday, but the Proteas are hoping that this knock will kick-start his Cricket World Cup.

The 36-year-old finished with a stuttering 41* from 83 deliveries in South Africa's pursuit of 127 for victory at Sophia Gardens, and while he batted through the run chase to help the Proteas secure a nine-wicket victory, there were concerns that he was eating up too much time. 

Amla had carded scores of 13, 6 and 6 at the tournament before Saturday. 

While the Proteas were always comfortable in banking their first victory of the World Cup, they could have given their net run rate a more significant boost had they chased down the runs in less than the 28.4 overs it eventually took them. 

Quinton de Kock's 68 off 72 was a return one would have expected, but Amla was far more cautious in a 105-minute knock that saw him find the fence with just four boundaries.

A strike-rate of 49.39 is not something you would ever like to see from your opening batsman at this level, but Du Plessis believes it was an important knock for a player who he considers vital to any success the Proteas will have at this tournament. 

"Initially the start was just about making sure we got a good foundation. And then I thought Quinton did that really well," he said.

"He transferred that pressure - I suppose that's what Quinny does always anyway - but he did take their attack on.

"Obviously in a perfect world, yes, you would want Hash to get 40 off 40 or 50 balls, but I think specifically with him it's about the bigger picture.

"It's about getting runs, finishing a game off, getting confidence for himself. He's a big player for us and we need him for the next four games."

The hope is that the time batting in a match situation will be more valuable to Amla than the runs he scored or how quickly he scored them.  

"I think time in the middle is gold for anybody," said Du Plessis.

"Guys like Quinton, they're on a different level when it comes to attacking and being free all the time, but not all players are like him.

"And that's why I say, in a perfect world, yes, we could have pushed a little harder at the end. But for me, sitting on the side, I was okay with him (Amla) because I see the value in it in the games that's coming up next."

Du Plessis did take the decision to promote Andile Phehlukwayo to No 3 in the order when he wanted to finish the game quickly, and the left-handed allrounder finished 17* off 17 and ended proceedings with a massive six that sailed out of the ground and, in all likelihood, into the River Taff. 

South Africa are next in action when they play against New Zealand at Edgbaston in a match they must win to keep their semi-final hopes alive. 

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