As it happened: Zim v SA, Day 3
Du Plessis says the match situation is perfectly poised in the Proteas' favour, with two days remaining on a deteriorating wicket.
"I think we played it perfectly," he said on Monday.
"The lead that we have is good, if we bowl well tomorrow (Tuesday) we can come back on Day five and knock off a few runs."
"It doesn't always have to look pretty," he said of the Proteas' batting.
"This game is one of those specific situations where you do the work and hard yards.
"People may not see it as flashy and we may not look like the No.1 ranked team but we know that is what we need to do.
"We have proven that over a period of time, it might look strange to everyone outside but we have a plan that we want to execute."
The Proteas' first innings was scored at 2.5 runs to the over, a game plan that was determined by adverse conditions and defensive bowling from the home team.
"It was important for us to make sure we got close to 400, and the only way that we could do that was by spending time out in the middle," Du Plessis, who batted for nearly six hours said.
"I spent quite a lot of time at the crease and found it very tough, especially with their seam bowlers who bowled at 120km per hour on a slow wicket with ring fields; that made it tough to score."
Du Plessis is fast earning the reputation as the Proteas' go-to man in these situations, and has shown steadfast temperament and grit over the last two years.
"I'm getting used to occupying the crease," he joked.
"It was quite frustrating to be honest.
"There is defending and there is getting frustrated by trying to score runs with the ball hitting the bottom of your bat 60% of the time.
"They bowled well, they know their conditions and for us it was important to score off their spinners.
"You will see that their spinners went for over three runs an over, it was just the seamers with their defensive fields which made it tough to score."