Cape Town – Dean Elgar was soldiering on at Newlands on day one of the third Test against Australia as he survived a brutal spell of fast bowling from Mitchell Starc.
Elgar was his usual unmoveable self as the Aussie quick grew increasingly frustrated.
At tea, Elgar’s 91* (165b, 17x4, 1x6) had helped the Proteas to 185/2.
They were welcome runs for Elgar, who had struggled in the series so far and in 2018 in general.
At the other end, AB de Villiers was fluent for his 46*.
Together, that pair swung things back South Africa’s way after Hashim Amla had departed for 31 shortly after lunch.
Amla had looked in good touch, as he so often does, and he had put on 86 valuable runs with Elgar for the second wicket after the hosts had lost Aiden Markram for 0 in just the fourth over of the day.
It was a false stroke that brought about the 34-year-old’s demise, though, when he went on the hook against Josh Hazlewood (2/23) only to find Pat Cummins on the fine leg fence.
Elgar got better the longer he batted, handling Nathan Lyon with ease after acknowledging in the week that he had struggled against the Australian off-spinner in the series so far.
In the process, Elgar became just the 15th South African in the history of Test cricket to notch up 3 000 runs in the format.
He did survive a scary moment on 53* when he was dropped at point by Lyon off Hazlewood. It was a relatively routine chance for Lyon, who made a mess of a dive to his right.
De Villiers also survived one or two nervy moments as he edged through a vacant third slip, but his naturally positive approach got the scoreboard moving along nicely.
Elgar and De Villiers brought up their 50-run partnership off just 70 balls as the momentum shifted firmly back in favour of the Proteas.
De Villiers had faced 69 balls for his 46*, carving seven boundaries along the way.
A wicket quickly after tea has become crucial for the visitors now, because if De Villiers keeps batting at this rate he will take the game away from them quickly.
By tea, Elgar and De Villiers' stand for the third wicket was 93*.
Elgar survived another chance in the second-last over before the end of session when he flashed at Mitchell Marsh and edged just wide of a diving Steve Smith for four.