Cricket redemption: Insane Paine act says it all
AUSTRALIA looks all but destined to lose its first series on South African soil since the apartheid era after a strong day for the home side saw the lead creep over 400.
A promising start to the day with Pat Cummins bringing up his first Test fifty alongside a hardy knock from skipper Tim Paine had the Aussies toying with the Proteas' attack, but their daring attempt at salvaging the match fell flat as the tail collapsed.
South Africa began its innings on the right foot before the day crept to a snooze-worthy halt as batsmen Dean Elgar and Faf du Plessis crawled through the final session at under two runs per over.
Here were the major talking points from the day's play.
DEFIANT PAINE SHINES ON TOUGH DAY
Aussie skipper Tim Paine more than proved his worth as the nation's new Test captain on day three with a defiant half-century highlighting the embattled tourists' disappointing first innings.
The 33-year-old, who was tossed into the role after Steve Smith was sent home amid the tour's explosive ball tampering controversy, had nothing to lose in his abrupt debut as Australia's leader.
He already impressed fans around the globe with a respectful pre-match handshake to South Africa as a gesture of good faith before the fourth Test.
A fractured thumb suffered while keeping up close to Chadd Sayers in the first innings wasn't enough for him to shy away from facing up to South Africa's daunting pace trio on his way to a hardy 62, the highest score by an Aussie wicketkeeper on debut as captain.
All signs pointed to the injured star taking it easy with the gloves in the second innings as the home side charged to an almost game-sealing lead, which is probably why fans were left gobsmacked when he returned to stand up close to Sayers in the hope of forcing an error from the batsmen.
Paine's moment of self-sacrifice in the field struck a chord with fans following a week of intense discussion about Australia's team culture.
A tough missed stumping chance was the only blip on the Tasmanian's radar throughout the gruelling day in the field.
SAYERS COPS IT FROM WARNE ... AGAIN
Shane Warne hasn't shied away from his assumption of seamer Chadd Sayers in his debut match in Johannesburg.
The former Aussie leg-spinner took aim at the domestic gun in the first innings for failing to provide the touring attack with some much-needed bite with Mitchell Starc out of the side.
Despite Sayers snagging AB de Villiers for his first Test wicket, Warne wasn't convinced with his effort in Australia's second bowling innings on day three.
"These are perfect conditions. But he just looked flat. I was expecting more," Warne said after the South Australian star's opening spell.
"People keep comparing him to Vernon Philander. Yes, they are medium pacers but Philander does something with the ball.
"An opening bowler without a bouncer ... the batsman has nothing to fear and (Sayers) has no margin for error with width or length. It's a lot easier to bat when you know you can rock on the front foot all the time."
Sayers finished the day with 0-33 from his 8 overs with the highest economy rate of the baggy green's attack.
ELGAR TAKES CATCH OF THE SERIES
Australia's tail was wagging its way through a niggling session for South Africa before Dean Elgar left everyone in awe with what could be the catch of the series.
Captain Tim Paine, who hit his maiden fifty as skipper with a heaving six over mid-wicket, tried lifting Kagiso Rabada for another maximum as Australia sat nine down and almost 300 runs behind.
Paine skied a ball only for Elgar to take a magnificent diving grab to close out the Aussie innings.
South Africa refused to enforce the follow-on and decided to let Australia sweat in the sun while they piled on a daunting lead.