Faf du Plessis carried his bat for more than seven hours and scored an inspirational century on debut to carry South Africa to a morale-boosting draw in the second test against Australia on Monday.
The 28-year-old was grit personified in a tension-filled fifth and final day, compiling an unbeaten 110 to steer the Proteas to safety in the stifling heat of the Adelaide Oval.
Australia paceman Peter Siddle and spinner Nathan Lyon captured late wickets to leave South Africa wobbling at 240-8, but all-rounder Du Plessis and Morne Morkel survived the drama-filled final overs to leave the series tied at 0-0 after the drawn first test in Brisbane.
South Africa were 248-8 at the close, 182 runs behind the 430-run target Australia captain Michael Clarke set for victory, with Morkel unbeaten on eight.The third and final test starts in Perth on Friday, a quick turnaround for two teams who will be carrying injuries and battling fatigue after five days in Adelaide’s baking heat.
‘‘Faf was outstanding to make a 100 on debut,’’ Clarke told ABC radio in a pitchside interview.
‘‘It’s just unfortunate that the wicket was very good to bat still today.‘‘It’s disappointing we didn’t win the test ... but we’ve got to get up for Perth.’’
Du Plessis and Kallis seemed set to frustrate the hosts again after scoring a big partnership in the first innings and guiding their team past the follow-on, but Lyon struck to have Kallis caught for 38 and give Australia renewed hope.
Siddle raised the tension to boiling point by dismissing Dale Steyn for a duck with a full toss that was pushed straight to Rob Quiney in close for the seventh wicket.
Exhausted but charging in on pure adrenalin, Siddle bowled Rory Kleinveldt with a yorker to spark a roar from the thousands of enthralled spectators, but Morkel proved rock solid at the close and scored a pair of boundaries to defuse the threat in the final over.
Du Plessis was earlier made to wait five nervous overs on 98, but brought up his 100th run with a drive through the covers for two off the bowling of Ben Hilfenhaus.
Siddle earlier bowled AB de Villiers with a stinging off-cutter through the gate to remove the wicketkeeper for 33 and end the fifth-wicket partnership after a marathon 68 overs that started shortly after tea on day four.Wicketkeeper Matthew Wade missed a regulation catch on the second-last ball before tea, grassing a nick from Du Plessis off the bowling of Hilfenhaus to leave his team demoralised.
The miss capped a forgettable test for Wade, who scored six and 18 with the bat and fumbled a golden stumping chance in the first innings that would have dismissed Graeme Smith for 46, the South Africa captain going on to score a fighting 122.Australia were frustrated twice by referral decisions, after Clarke had Du Plessis trapped in front immediately before and after the drinks break.Both were given out and both decisions overturned on video review by the batsman.
The first review showed the ball pitching slightly outside leg stump before cannoning into Du Plessis’s pad, while the second showed the ball had never touched any part of the all-rounder’s leg and had actually deflected off his bat.
Should bouncers be banned from cricket?