How badly spectators at the Eden Gardens wanted to see a close contest was apparent when Kevin O'Brien squared off against Jacques Kallis on Tuesday evening.
The crowd cheered when Kevin, the hero of Ireland's shock win over England, pulled Kallis for four next ball after being felled by a bouncer.
Ireland had already lost four quick wickets in pursuit of South Africa's 272 and only Kevin's big-hitting stood between South Africa and a place in the quarterfinals.
However, the fight went out of Ireland once he fell, followed by Gary Wilson. South Africa's spinners Johan Botha and Robin Peterson continued to impress, keeping the pressure on after the pacers had dented Ireland early.
Once Imran Tahir recovers from a thumb injury, South Africa may have one of the best spin attacks in the tournament.
Their batting, too, was good enough to recover from the absence of AB de Villiers, out with a hamstring injury, and a disappointing performance from the top order to post a big total. The main credit for that must go to JP Duminy, who missed a century by one run.
Duminy did not have happy memories of Eden Gardens coming into Tuesday's match. The last time he played here, in a Test against India, he scored 0 and 6 and dropped an important catch in a big defeat.
However, the left-handed middle order batsman put those memories behind him as he hit a crucial 99.
Coming to terms with their status as one of the favourites after beating India, South Africa would have liked bigger contributions from the top order batsmen though.
Hashim Amla, Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis fell to brilliant fielding. Wicketkeeper Morne Van Wyk, tried at No. 3 in the absence of De Villiers, flattered to deceive despite getting two lives.
However, De Villiers's replacement, Colin Ingram, shared an important partnership with Duminy though after coming in at 117 for five.
While Ingram went for big shots, Duminy was happy to look for singles and twos initially. His first fifty contained only four boundaries, but Duminy timed his acceleration to perfection.
After Ingram fell, staying back to a ball that kept a little low, Duminy brought the big shots out of his bag and raced towards what seemed like a deserving century.
It was ironic that having batted smart right through the innings, he fell on 99 while going for a six down the ground in the last over with the entire crowd cheering him on. The missed milestone will disappoint Duminy but his knock and the way Ingram slipped into his role in the late middle order will please South Africa as they get ready for the knockouts.