They still lost heavily by 209 runs in the second Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo but the Proteas’ batsmen at last showed some skill and application on Monday’s fourth day.
Well, at least, two of them.
Theunis de Bruyn and Temba Bavuma provided one of the very few highlights for the Proteas on this tour to date with respective performances that not only bode well for the future but also proved that conditions on the Island have been far from unplayable.
Sri Lanka nonetheless whitewashed their opponents in the two-Test series.
For the 26-year-old De Bruyn in particular it was a triumph.
South Africa’s decision to bat him at three had been met with criticism as some felt it was the under-performing senior batsmen trying to avoid their responsibilities.
But De Bruyn rubbished those claims as he ground out a superb maiden Test century off 228 deliveries before leaving a ball on his stumps on 101.
He received excellent support from the diminutive Bavuma as the duo added 123 for the sixth wicket.
The pair were, rather surprisingly in a sense, a perfect foil to each other.
De Bruyn was content to play the anchor role, mixing solid defence with some delightful strokes.
Bavuma, who normally bats at a more measured pace than De Bruyn, was the aggressor.
Confirming his reputation as one of the Proteas batters who handles spin well, he reached his half-century off just 69 balls and swept brilliantly in particular.
It took a magnificent delivery from veteran Rangana Herath (6/98) to finally dislodge him for a gutsy 63 off 98.
However, normal service resumed thereafter.
Quinton de Kock looked all at sea with his defensive game while the tail was wiped out quickly despite a bit of resistance from Kagiso Rabada (18).