Cape Town - If the Proteas do manage to miraculously save the second Test against England at Newlands on Tuesday, Pieter Malan will have played a massive role in the result.
The 30-year-old opening batsman, on Test debut, spent nearly four hours at the crease on Monday to finish day four 63* (193) and give his side an outside chance of saving the match and staying 1-0 up in the series.
At stumps, Malan and the Proteas were 126/2 needing a further 312 runs for victory. The more likely result is that England will take the eight wickets they need to get on the board in the series, but the composure Malan dished up makes for a potentially riveting climax to what has been an enthralling contest.
Malan had put on 71 for the first wicket with Dean Elgar (31) and then 52 with Zubayr Hamza (18) for the second and throughout all of it he was exposed to a relentless examination of his Test credentials, which he passed with flying colours.
England used pace and spin, went short and wide and got in the faces of the South African batsmen, but Malan stood his ground and was unmoved.
He will have to do it all again on Tuesday, of course, but speaking after the day's play South African batting coach Jacques Kallis heaped praise on Malan.
"The fight that was shown today," said Kallis when asked what it was about Malan, who has over 10 000 first-class runs, that impressed him most.
"Obviously it's his first Test match but he's played like he's got a lot under the belt. He knows his game pretty well from the amount of first-class runs that he's got.
"He's obviously got a good technique and he played the situation perfectly this afternoon."
The mental aspect, Kallis added, was another prominent feature of Malan's game.
"He obviously knows how to switch on and switch off," said Kallis.
"He is very organised and a fighter, which is what you want in a situation like this and especially at the top of the order.
"I was very impressed with the mental capabilities that he's got and he's obviously got that over time by playing a lot of first-class cricket."
When play resumes on Tuesday, Malan will be joined by nightwatchman Keshav Maharaj (2*).