South African second Test hero Faf du Plessis said he went through a rollercoaster of emotions as he closed in on a maiden century that rescued a draw against Australia at Adelaide Oval on Monday.
Du Plessis batted for seven hours and finished unbeaten on 110 as he dragged the tourists to 8-248 and an unlikely draw on the final day in response to Australia's imposing victory target of 430.
Making his Test debut, the 28-year-old survived three dismissals that required DRS review on his way to being named man of the match.
The Test rookie was given out lbw twice to Michael Clarke by umpire Billy Bowden, but successfully challenged both of those decisions.
The right-hander survived a third appeal late in the day when he did not offer up a shot and was rapped on the pads by Nathan Lyon, only for Hawkeye to show the ball going over the stumps.
Speaking post-match on Monday, a jovial du Plessis, who was stuck in the 90s for a lengthy period, said he battled mental fatigue and nerves before settling to reach his first Test ton.
"In the 90s, I was going through a lot of emotions. I had goosebumps - a world record for the longest goosebumps ever," du Plessis joked.
"It felt like it was forever and I think I was on 96 when I went through a stage where I said 'I'm one boundary away from getting 100 so please bowl me a half-volley'.
"I just said to myself 'don't think too much about your hundred, just let it come to you ... think of the team's goal', and that was to be defensive and not give my wicket away.
"It just took a little longer than I hoped for."
Du Plessis' memorable knock was even more impressive considering he battled cramps and a lion-hearted display from paceman Peter Siddle at the death of the five-day encounter to remain at the crease.
The all-rounder said it was a special feeling to endure the pain to make a century and hold on in a tense finish.
"It just makes it a little sweeter the fact that it was just so close. The story wouldn't have been that nice if my body was feeling fine," du Plessis said.
"One day when I look back I can say I pushed through the physical side of things.
"It just shows how far you can go if you're just mentally strong enough."
Cramps and an aggressive Siddle were not the only variables du Plessis had to contend with.
The middle-order batsman had to deal with a sledging onslaught from Australia throughout his enduring 376-ball innings.
But du Plessis humorously paid tribute to the home side.
"I was surprised compared to yesterday and today, they didn't stop for five minutes. They kept chatting in my ear the whole day," du Plessis quipped.
"They were fighting firstly and then they were getting frustrated that they couldn't get us out, but we would have probably done the same thing.
"Credit to them for speaking the whole day."
South Africa captain Graeme Smith also dealt with a range of emotions, admitting he was unable to watch most of the play in the closing overs.
"As the day wore on, it got more and more intense to the point where I didn't watch much of the last six overs," Smith said.
"I definitely watched the last five balls though. Once the fifth ball was gone, I knew it was game over."
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 27 November, 2012 7:25AM AEST