The uncertainty surrounding the future of head coach Mark Boucher was tangible throughout the second ODI against India at Boland Park on Friday, but the Proteas provided exactly the right on-field tonic to confirm that they are a team on the rise.
In the scorching Paarl heat - temperatures hovered around 41 degrees Celsius for much of the day - these Proteas thrived despite the off-field issues currently hovering over South African cricket like a dark cloud.
Chasing 288 for victory, the hosts cantered home by 7 wickets and with 11 balls to spare, claiming an unassailable 2-0 lead in this three-match series.
SCOREBOARD | Proteas v India, 2nd ODI
It is another hugely positive step, and they have now won back-to-back series against India within seven days following their dramatic 2-1 win in the Tests that culminated at Newlands last Friday.
Janneman Malan's 91 off 108 (8x4, 1x6) was a thing of beauty and near-flawless.
His run-a-ball 132-run stand with opener Quinton de Kock (78 off 66; 7x4, 3x6) set the tone for the Proteas, who never looked back and had captain Temba Bavuma (35 off 36) to help ensure that they got over the line.
De Kock was in the mood, and he played with a freedom that perhaps hasn't been evident often enough recently. He carved the Indian bowlers to all corners, with his innovation turning good balls into boundaries, and he would have been kicking himself when he missed a Shardul Thakur full toss to be trapped LBW.
That could have been the opening India needed, but Malan soldiered on, compiling an innings that was assured, technically masterful and drenched in character given the extreme heat.
He had able support from Bavuma and that pair put on an 80-run stand for the second wicket that seemed to all but guarantee a South African win.
As is so often the case, however, a couple of quick wickets can change everything, and that was exactly what India got.
Malan played a Bumrah off-cutter onto his stumps, falling agonisingly short of what would have been a fourth ODI century, and in the very next over Bavuma was gone when he popped one back to leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (1/47 in 10).
Suddenly, the Proteas had gone from 212/1 to 214/3 and while the required run-rate was never a concern, they had the out-of-form Aiden Markram at the wicket, joined by first ODI centurion Rassie van der Dussen.
It was very much a case of 'game on', and Indian skipper KL Rahul persisted with chief destroyer Bumrah and Chahal in the hope of finding another breakthrough.
Van der Dussen (37* off 38) and Markram (37* off 41), however, remained positive, putting anything loose away while rotating the strike relatively easily, and with every passing, wicketless over the inevitability of another Proteas win grew stronger.
The pair compiled their own very tidy 74-run stand to see their side home, and the runs for Markram in particular would have felt good.
India did have their chances with the bat to put the game beyond South Africa.
Rishabh Pant (85 off 71) was breathtaking at times, not for the first time on this tour, and when he was cruising along with Rahul (55 off 79) for a 115-run partnership that came off just 111 balls, India looked like they were on their way to something big.
The 287/6 they eventually did card still looked pretty comfortable given that the highest successful previous run chase ever in Paarl was 250/2 by South Africa against Sri Lanka in 2001, but it would have been a lot more were it not for South Africa picking up wickets at key intervals.
The third and final ODI will now take place at Newlands on Sunday.
Scores in brief:
India 287/6 (Pant 85, Rahul 55, Shamsi 2/57)
South Africa 288/3 (Malan 91, De Kock 78, Thakur 1/35)