Stuart Broad produced his best Test bowling return of his burgeoning career, 3 for 44, then predicted England would win the fourth Test at some point today.
"We could see how Paul Harris was able to hang around, and if we play sensibly and professionally tomorrow then we will have a very good chance of winning this Test," said Broad.
South Africa's hero of the day, AB de Villiers, who scored a potentially match-saving 97 in a sterling four-hour innings, begged to differ. "We came up a little bit short of the target we would have liked to have set England, but I am happy with the 196-run lead and I think we have a good chance tomorrow."
He denied he was irritated to have lost his wicket so close to a Test hundred. "I was very disappointed not to have given us a 250-run lead. I really thought we could have done it. I don't really mind [not scoring the century]. Pulling the team out of trouble is all I wanted to do. My other score of 90 in a Test was against New Zealand, when again I pulled the team out of trouble. And today 97 is as good as 150 and I am very happy to have given the boys a chance to pull through tomorrow.
"This is the ideal time for the bowlers, who have not been where they know they really can be, to hit their straps and bowl like we know they can. And if we pick up a couple of early wickets I can't see why we can't push on through to victory. Even when the ball was 70 overs old it was moving around a bit."
De Villiers said he sensed, as his 95-run partnership with Paul Harris prospered, that England were growing more anxious. "I think they got a bit worried because we were scoring very well, at around four or five an over."
As the stand went on, so his confidence in the ability of Harris, who made a gritty 34 – his highest score of the series – grew, until he no longer felt the need to keep him off the strike.
"After he [Harris] got to 20 he really looked comfortable at the wicket so I decided to give him a bit of freedom to express himself and play his game. I was really backing his ability and he proved me right. He batted really well today. He can definitely stick around."
Despite De Villiers' optimism, Broad would not be shaken. "We are favourites at this point," said the Nottinghamshire all-rounder. "We are in a strong position and it is a good wicket to bat on."