Proteas saved by Du Plessis

Faf du Plessis fought dehydration and cramp during a match-defining century in Adelaide yesterday, but said the pain and fatigue had made carrying South Africa to a second Test draw with Australia all the more sweet.

Du Plessis scored 78 in the first innings to help his team avoid the follow-on and an unbeaten 110 (from 376 balls) in the second as he steered his side to safety with only two wickets in hand in a dream debut. "It just makes it a little bit more sweet," said the all-rounder, when asked about his exhaustion, having batted through the whole day in stifling heat. "The story wouldn't have been that nice if my body was all feeling fine. One day when I look back, I can say that I pushed through the physical side of things. It just shows how far you can go if you're mentally strong."

Du Plessis came to the crease with South Africa reeling at 45 for 4 in their second innings shortly after tea on day four and with seemingly little hope of salvation.

Anchoring watchful partnerships of 89 runs with AB de Villiers (who made 33 off 220 balls) and 99 with injured Jacques Kallis, Du Plessis then found himself thrust into the role of saviour as his more established batting partners crumbled. South Africa finished on 248 for 8.