Centuries from JP Duminy and Dean Elgar, in a partnership of 250, put the Proteas in a dominant position on day three of the first Test against Australia on Saturday.
On that foundation, the Proteas ended the day on 390-6, with Quinton de Kock on 16 and Vernon Philander on 23.
But the day belonged to Duminy and Elgar. They lifted the Proteas from a precarious 104-2 overnight to 295 before Duminy chased a wide one from Peter Siddle and feathered a faint edge to the keeper. It brought to an end a magnificent innings of 141 off 225 balls.
Elgar was to follow 11 overs into the final session on 127 with an uncharacteristically loose shot off Hazlewood for an easy catch in the gulley. But they had given the Proteas the upper hand, and even the loss of two more wickets late in the day, for 28 runs, has not loosened their grip on the game.
Both Temba Bavuma (8) and Faf du Plessis (32), perhaps emboldened by the healthy scoreboard, went to extravagant shots.
With a deficit of 388, the Australians will need quick wickets and then pull off probably the best run chase in the history of the ground to gain a victory. They may perhaps be inspired by the memory that in 2008, South Africa successfully chased 414.
But given their spectacular collapse in the first innings, when they went from 158-0 to 244 all out, the question is whether they have the backbone for the chase.
Duminy, surprisingly promoted up the order, and Elgar, had done all that was needed and more to ensure the Proteas get into a position to win this game, coming back from 32-4 on the first morning and a first-innings total of 242.
The two batsmen consolidated their positions in the first session, putting on 76 off 26 overs. But Duminy, particularly, came out firing immediately after lunch, racing from 74 at lunch to 96 in 10 balls.
His hundred, the fifth of his Test career, took another 17 deliveries to arrive, but it was well worth the wait, coming off 169 balls with 17 fours. It was enhanced by the fact that it came on the ground where he made his debut eight years and 34 Tests ago.
Elgar, who had been on 69 at the first break finally broke through the three-figure mark 21 overs into the second session, having taken 255 balls, with 13 fours and a six. It was a masterclass in solid support and focused concentration.
Photo of Elgar and Duminy: BackpagePix
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