Jean Paul Duminy stood tall with his maiden Test century to resurrect South Africa's first innings to 459 against Australia on the third day's play in the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in Melbourne on Sunday.
At the close of play, Australia were four for no loss with Matthew Hayden on one and Simon Katich two as South Africa lead by 61 runs. Australia made 394 in the first innings.
It was a day when Australia flopped and allowed South Africa to recover stunningly riding on a sublime 166 from Duminy, who also played a crucial role with a match winning half-century in the first Test.
Dale Steyn (76) and Paul Harris (39) gave the left-handed batsman exceptional support that literally took the game away from the Australians, who had the visitors on the mat at 198 for seven on the second day. Peter Siddle was the best bowler with four for 81 while spinner Nathan Hauritz picked up three for 98.
South Africa expected a miracle on the third day and Duminy weaved his magic to take his team to a position of strength against the listless world champions.
With Brett Lee, unable to bowl due to a sore left foot, Ricky Ponting had an inexperienced bowling attack to rely on.
But it was Duminy's irritating stand with the tail that pained the Australians more than Lee's absence. First it was the 67-run stand with Harris that reduced the threat of follow on and then the courageous 180-run stand with Steyn for the ninth wicket put the Proteas in command.
During the brave ninth wicket stand, which was the third-highest in history, Dumminy stayed calm while Steyn battled the excruciating pain of a stinging blow on each hand to frustrate the home side.
Duminy played a matured innings that started with a couple of pull for four off Hauritz. He spent some time in the 90s and got his century by cutting Siddle through gully for four and raised both arms and kissed his helmet badge. A sweep off Hauritz lobbed to Siddle brought an end to the brilliant innings and team mates lined up to congratulate Dumminy.
Steyn, who could have retired hurt after being struck on the left hand by Mitchell Johnson, got to his personal best. He hit Johnson for two straight drives for four and again a similar shot off Siddle got him his half-century. His glorious innings, that included nine fours and the six off Hauritz, came to an end after he was bowled by Siddle.
It was long and tiring day for the Australians and South Africa not only added 261 runs on the third day, but also took away significant time from them to level the three-match contest.