west Indies pair Kraigg Brathwaite and Marlon Samuels struck twin centuries on a rain-shortened fourth day of the second Test against South Africa.
With the weather intervening at the start and the end of the day’s play at Port Elizabeth, just 35 overs were possible and, with one first-innings wicket still to take, a draw remains the overwhelming favourite.
The Proteas gave themselves a sniff of an unlikely result with a flurry of wickets late on but a stand of 176 between Brathwaite (106) and Samuels (101) should be enough to leave the tourists in a position of safety with a maximum of 98 overs remaining.
They reached stumps on 275 for nine, 142 short of the Proteas’ tally.
The Windies resumed at 1pm on 147 for two, with both batsmen settled in the sixties.
Both players looked to score more freely off Imran Tahir’s leg spin and he continued to offer up boundary balls in response.
The returning Dale Steyn offered a sterner test and should have had Brathwaite for 90 when he fended a vicious delivery high to second slip.
But Faf du Plessis, an excellent fieldsman and solid catcher, misread the flight and grassed the chance as it dropped over his shoulder.
The 22-year-old Brathwaite quickly gathered his next ten runs, bringing up his third Test hundred with an ungainly swat down the ground off Steyn.
Samuels followed up with his sixth Test ton in the next over, cracking Tahir down the ground for six then four to reach the landmark in style.
Celebration soon turned to commiseration for the duo, though, as they reconvened in the dressing room within four balls of each other.
Samuels was a shade unlucky, querying a dubious-looking lbw verdict for Vernon Philander only for replays to deny him by a fraction.
Brathwaite’s dismissal was more self-inflicted, thick-edging a booming drive to second slip to give Morne Morkel a scalp.
That left the score 233 for three, which quickly turned into 261 for five when Tahir removed Denesh Ramdin (20) and Shivnarine Chanderpaul (seven) in the same over.
The prized wicket of Chanderpaul came softly, a back-foot defensive shot spinning back into the stumps but South Africa cashed in on the opening.
New one-day captain Jason Holder lasted just two balls as he nicked Morkel behind while Sulieman Benn contributed four runs before horribly misjudging a Tahir googly.
Debutant Kenroy Peters bagged a duck, run out decisively by AB de Villiers, before the rain returned to halt South African momentum.
In Christchurch, New Zealand claimed a comprehensive eight-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the first Test on Monday. The Black Caps chased down the target of 105 for the loss of two wickets in just under 31 overs to go 1-0 up in the two-match series and cap 2014 as their best year in Test history with five wins from nine matches.
Kane Williamson (31 not out) and Ross Taylor (39no) steered the hosts to victory as New Zealand scored 107 for two in their second innings following the loss of openers Tom Latham and Hamish Rutherford.
Sri Lanka had started the day ten runs behind New Zealand’s first-innings total of 441, on 293 for five in their second innings after being made to follow on.
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews resumed his overnight score of 53, and his ability to stay at the crease was crucial if the visitors were to stave off defeat.
However, he fell for 66 as he narrowly edged behind to BJ Watling off the bowling of Tim Southee (four for 91) in the morning session after nightwatchman Tharindu Kaushal (12) had given the bowler his first scalp of the day.
Southee also accounted for Dhammika Prasad (four), five runs after the dismissal of Mathews, to leave Sri Lanka on the brink before Mark Craig saw off Prasanna Jayawardene for 23 and Trent Boult (four for 100) wrapped things up by removing Suranga Lakmal (16).
It meant Brendon McCullum’s side were set a total of 105 for victory, and despite the loss of Latham in the sixth over for 17 and Rutherford (ten) shortly afterwards to leave New Zealand on 43 for two, New Zealand eased to victory.
The second Test match between the two sides starts on 3 January in Wellington.