Exhausting century worth it, says gritty Du Plessis
'I think it just makes it a little bit more sweet'
Faf du Plessis battled dehydration and cramping during a match-defining century on Monday, but said the pain and fatigue had made carrying South Africa to a draw in the second Test against 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 in the second as he steered South Africa to safety with only two wickets in hand in a dream debut at Adelaide.
“I think it just makes it a little bit more sweet,” the 28-year-old all-rounder told reporters of 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 look back and say I pushed through the physical side of things.
“It just shows how far you can go if you're mentally strong enough.”
Named man-of-the-match, Du Plessis came to the crease with South Africa reeling at 45-4 shortly after tea on day four and with seemingly little hope of salvation.
Anchoring watchful partnerships of 89 runs with schoolmate AB de Villiers and 99 with injured all-rounder Jacques Kallis, Du Plessis found himself thrust into the role of saviour as his batting partners crumbled around him late in the day.
Along the way, Du Plessis survived two lbw decisions given by umpire Billy Bowden in quick succession when in the 30s, with both over-ruled on video review. He edged a catch to Matt Wade off the bowling of pace bowler Ben Hilfenhaus but the wicket-keeper fumbled the chance to grant Du Plessis another reprieve on 94.
After moving to 98 after tea, Du Plessis was stuck there for about half an hour as Australia's bowlers ramped up the pressure.