Cape Town - While day three of the second Test between the Proteas and England belonged to Hashim Amla, there was another man in the Proteas side who delivered when needed most.
Faf du Plessis has been under immense pressure of late.
Like Amla, his last Test 50 came in the New Years Test against West Indies at Newlands last year and, like Amla, his last Test century came in December of 2014.
Du Plessis, along with the rest of the South African batting line-up with the exception of AB de Villiers, then struggled immensely in India where he scored 60 runs in seven innings.
And scores of 2 and 9 in Durban meant that Du Plessis arrived in Cape Town with a lot to prove.
By the end of day three he was 51* as the Proteas looked to get somewhere near the massive England first innings total of 629/6.
And while Amla batted through the entire third day, Du Plessis’ return to form will also be welcomed by the Proteas.
The 31-year-old stopped short of saying that he had felt the pressure walking to the wicket on Monday.
“2015, the Test matches in India, that was lean. I would have liked to score more runs there but I had an extremely good year in one-day cricket, I was extremely proud of my performances in the one-day setup,” said Du Plessis.
“As we all do as senior players … we like to score and contribute as much as we can and to put in big performances for the team.
“We need to lead from the front and I’m very glad. Hashim (Amla) has put in a lot of hard work into the nets and to get a big score like he did today with AB is a huge step in the right direction.”
Du Plessis knows that the job is far from over, though.
“For me personally it was just nice to spend some time in the middle again and get your confidence back … but it’s really important for me to try and also put a big score on the board,” he said.
“When you’re looking for runs 40s and 50s doesn’t make a big difference. You need to cash in big so that’s going to be my goal tomorrow.
“If we can bat well tomorrow and make the English bowling attack tired, that will be a big win for us mentally.”