South Africa approached an epic series win over India at Newlands on Friday, but victory, if it happens, will have to come after lunch as the Proteas ended the morning session on 171/3, still needing 41 runs to win the third Test and claim the rubber 2-1.
The fourth day began with South Africa on 101/2, 212 being their target, with Rassie van der Dussen coming to the wicket to join Keegan Petersen, on 48, following the dismissal of captain Dean Elgar for 30 on what became the final ball of the third day.
The Proteas pair had to come through a torrid test with Mohammed Shami swinging the ball around corners and Jasprit Bumrah typically probing. But Petersen went to his third half-century in four innings with an edge through the vacant gully region.
Petersen was then reprieved on 59 when Cheteshwar Pujara dropped a comfortable catch at first slip off Bumrah.
Some relief came when Shami was surprisingly replaced by Umesh Yadav after bowling just four overs; the pressure began to ease and the runs started to flow.
Petersen and Van der Dussen took their partnership to 54 before Petersen, rushed by a ball that zipped back into him off the pitch, chopped Shardul Thakur into his stumps. The 28-year-old made a career-best 82, further proof of his class and silencing the naysayers when it comes to how richly he deserves his place in the team.
Shami belatedly returned for a second spell and the bustling Thakur continued to cause problems for the batsmen, but Van der Dussen (22*) and Temba Bavuma (12*) made it through to lunch without further damage.
India continued to have no luck with DRS, calling for reviews against Van der Dussen for both caught behind and lbw. The former remained with the on-field decision as ultra-edge could not distinguish whether the ball had hit the bat at the same time as the bat scraped along the ground, while the lbw review showed Umpire’s Call with the ball hitting the top edge of leg-stump.
Glory beckons for the Proteas, but there will no doubt be one last roll of the dice, one last desperate push for victory by India, for them to weather.