Faf du Plessis helped South Africa salvage a draw in an epic debut, defying the Australian attack all day yesterday to post his maiden test century.
Du Plessis (110 not out) defended resolutely over seven and a half hours in partnerships with AB de Villiers (33) and Jacques Kallis (46) after resuming at 77-4, before guiding the South Africans to 248-8 at stumps in a tense last hour of the second test at Adelaide.
He reached his hundred off 310 balls as he anchored an 89-run fifth-wicket stand with de Villiers and 90 for the sixth with Kallis, who was batting with a hamstring injury that will likely rule him out of the third test starting Friday.
Du Plessis' patience was unbending. Twice he survived being given out by the umpire, only for the decision to be overturned on review. Far from being unsettled, it just seemed to make his resolve stronger. In all he batted for 376 balls, the equivalent of 62.4 overs.
When Rory Kleinveldt was dismissed by an exhausted Peter Siddle (4-65 off 33 overs), there was still time for four overs to be bowled. Du Plessis found a willing ally in Morne Morkel, who ended the suspense when he hit consecutive boundaries off the fourth and fifth balls of the day's final over.
That was enough to start celebrations in South Africa's dressing rooms. Each member of the touring party poured on to Adelaide Oval to congratulate Du Plessis, who had been battling cramps.
It's a shattering result for Michael Clarke and his men given the way they'd set the match up with a record-breaking first day and second innings target.
It was the first time since 1921 that Australia and South Africa have drawn consecutive tests in a series. All is on the line in the final test at the WACA starting Friday.