SA book last eight spot
It took longer than expected to be completely sure, but South Africa's cricketers finally booked a World Cup quarter-final place with a victory in their last qualification match.
One of the pre-tournament favourites, South Africa moved into second place in Pool B behind leaders India with a 146-run win over the United Arab Emirates yesterday at Wellington, New Zealand.
Captain A.B. de Villiers led the way with 99 runs as South Africa posted a total of 341 for six. He also took two wickets as the UAE was bowled out for 195 runs in 47.3 overs in reply.
The South Africans have had a mixed bag of results at the tournament, opening with a 62-run win over Zimbabwe on February 15 and twice posting 400-plus totals to beat the West Indies and Ireland. But they also lost to defending champions India by 130 runs and to 1992 winner Pakistan by 29.
"It's never a given that you will make the quarter-finals, so a big moment for us," de Villiers said.
"We are representing our country in a knockout match in a World Cup."
De Villiers will be well aware that South Africa have never won a knockout game at the Cricket World Cup.
In weekend matches, India will play Zimbabwe at Auckland, and Australia will be taking on Scotland in Hobart tomorrow (tonight Ja time). On Sunday, the UAE play the West Indies at Napier, New Zealand, and Ireland take on Pakistan at Adelaide, South Australia.
Pakistan, Ireland and the West Indies are still in the mix for the last two quarter-final spots from Pool B. New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Australia and Bangladesh have qualified from Pool A.
The quarter-finals begin next Wednesday in Sydney, followed on consecutive nights at Melbourne, Adelaide and Wellington.