Proteas captain Faf du Plessis pulls Nathan Lyon away as Tim Paine anticipates catching the ball on Monday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Dean Elgar faced 180 dot balls in reaching his 12th Test fifty here on Monday as South Africa continued to close in on an historic Test series triumph against Australia.

In a remarkable display of patience, determination and even suppression, Elgar reached 50 having played just 19 scoring shots, the last of those a six hit over midwicket, to bring up the mini landmark felt out of place – reckless even.

That would be 30 overs worth of dot balls – a full session of cricket without scoring a run.

It was a throwback to a bygone era, when pitches were uncovered, TV was black and white, and ‘Facebook’ most likely meant an appointment for a posh make-up session.

Of course in such a performance, there were lengthy periods without scoring; Elgar was on 36 on Saturday evening for 37 balls, and on 39 for 36 balls – a period taking in the last half-an-hour on Saturday and most of the first hour on Sunday.

Deliveries were blocked, left and nudged to fielders. It wasn’t so much batting in a bubble as it was locking yourself in a room and refusing to leave.

At the other end, Faf du Plessis copped a second blow on his right forefinger, took seven minutes to get it treated and thereafter blasted his way to an 18th Test half-century – a happy return to form for the Proteas captain.

His partnership with Elgar is currently worth 108 runs – Elgar’s contributed 25 of those off 119 balls.

Dean Elgar showed great powers of concentration to reach his 50 off 199 balls. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Du Plessis was not out on 81 at lunch, while Elgar is on 59, with SA’s total 202/3.

South Africa’s lead at the interval is 469. That is surely out of Australia’s reach, with a draw or win for the hosts ensuring a first Test series win against the Australians in 48 years.

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