If the Proteas were slightly concerned about the absence of AB de Villiers, they realised on Thursday afternoon that they would be lost without their captain.
Faf du Plessis played one of his greatest international knocks as he almost single-handedly guided his team to 269/8 in the first ODI against India at Kingsmead.
The skipper crafted a magnificent 120 off just 112 deliveries, in particular showing his finesse on the off-side.
It is his ninth ODI century.
However, the real joy in his masterclass was the way he managed to keep his scoring rate up despite the fact that wickets kept falling around him.
Du Plessis seemed set just for a supporting role after Quinton de Kock (34) belatedly found some confidence.
The battling wicketkeeper-batsman though was the first victim of India’s shrewd spin strategy.
The visitors had picked three of them in Yuzvendra Chahal (2/45), Kuldeep Yadav and Kedar Jadhav and they were instrumental in keeping South Africa in check.
In fact, some would say they dominated.
The left-arm spin of Yadav, who boasted figures of 3/34, was particularly impressive.
He beat the returning JP Duminy with a crafty googly, drew David Miller into spooning a catch by slowing down his pace and ended a vital sixth wicket partnership of 74 between Du Plessis and the mature Chris Morris (37).
But Du Plessis, who later struggled with his back again, cut loose with two massive pulled sixes and found another calm ally in Andile Phehlukwayo (27*).