Bangladesh top-order batsman Mominul Haque’s 77 off 150 balls brought some confidence to the left-hander as he was low on runs compared to the blistering start to his Test career.
The stage was set for Mominul to score a big hundred for the Tigers and getting his team close to South Africa’s first innings total of 496.
However, the southpaw failed to hit a century and got out in a bit of a casual manner just after lunch.
Mominul was not on 28 after day two and looked promising at the close of play Friday.
Following the start of proceeding on day three, focus was on Tamim Iqbal as the left-hander has been the in-form batsman throughout this calendar year in Tests.
But Mominul started the day in confident manner and played some delightful shots on way to his 12th Test fifty.
He smashed a dozen boundaries all across the park and batted confidently in the morning session.
Both pacemen Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada tested Mominul with some short balls but the left-hander was standing tall and handled the Proteas pace attack quite nicely.
The Cox’s Bazar cricketer though survived a lucky leg-before wicket shout against Rabada as the on-field umpire turned down the appeal and South Africa did not review it.
But all along, Mominul’s confident batting was the highlight of Bangladesh’s first innings.
The boundary Mominul hammered against seamer Andile Phehlukwayo in the fourth ball of the 48th over could very well be a contender for the shot of the day.
It was overpitched by the bowler and in the line of the middle stump.
Mominul drove the ball with his wrists to the left of mid-on.
It was brilliant timing and placement to boot.
Mominul also handled the left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj well and used his feet pretty nicely until he got out.
But the way Mominul was dismissed was frustrating.
Bangladesh were going along nicely until lunch, only losing Tamim’s wicket.
Mominul was set at the crease and batting well.
Then the soft dismissal happened in the fourth ball of the 64th over.
Maharaj bowled a length ball and Mominul was caught between the front and back feet.
Mominul came forward initially and then shifted back to turn it away to the leg side.
To his horror, he watched the ball go straight into the hands of forward short-leg where Aiden Markram took an outstanding reflex catch.
And the promising innings of Mominul ended with grief.
The pitch was batting-friendly and he was going nicely until that casual shot.
But this 77-run knock will surely give him some confidence in the next innings against South Africa.
Mominul, who started his Test career in blistering fashion, was once compared with the legendary Sir Don Bradman (in terms of batting average) just 15-16 months ago.
He scored 11 consecutive half-centuries in as many Tests.
At one stage in his career, in late 2015, his average rose to a staggering 56.
But from 2016 onwards, the scenario changed for Mominul.
Before this Test match, he played two five-dayers last year and three this year.
In fact, the Tigers only played seven Tests in these two years.
Mominul got injured ahead of the second Test against New Zealand in Christchurch in January, 2017, while he was dropped from the Colombo Test in March against Sri Lanka.
So in two years, Mominul averaged only 23.2 as he scored 232 in 10 innings.
Definitely a drop in standard for a quality batsman like Mominul.
The left-hander’s recent loss of form was the reason behind his axing from the Test squad for the Australia series last month.
Later he was included in the squad following much drama, replacing Mosaddek Hossain.
Mominul did not play against Australia in the first Test in Mirpur but was included for the second in Chittagong, scoring 32 and 29 in both innings.
Mominul retained his place in the Test squad for the South Africa series and national chief selector Minhajul Abedin said he personally referred Mominul for the five-dayers against the Proteas.
So it was a crucial innings for Mominul’s career as he had to score runs for the team and also for himself in order to gain some confidence.
Mominul’s innings eventually ended on 77 on day three against the Proteas.
In the process, he became the highest individual Bangladesh scorer in South Africa, surpassing Al Shahriyar Rokon's previous highest of 71.
He is also the highest Tigers individual scorer against the Proteas across all venues, leapfrogging Habibul Bashar, who had made 75.
Although it could have been more useful for the team if Mominul had scored a big hundred and carried his innings longer, this 77-run innings will bring some confidence to the left-hander who is often considered the best batsman for Bangladesh in Tests.