Jacques Kallis hit a majestic century as South Africa moved into a dominant position on the second day of the second Test against England at Kingsmead on Monday.
Kallis was last man out for 162 in a South African total of 332, a first-innings lead of 193.
England were 30 for no wicket in their second innings at the close and faced an uphill battle to prevent South Africa from hitting back to level the five-match series after losing the first Test in Port Elizabeth.
"It's as good [an innings] as I've played. My number one will always be my first Test hundred in Melbourne," Kallis said, referring to an innings in the 1997/1998 season which saved a Test against Australia.
Kallis, with good support from the lower order batsmen, had the England bowlers virtually on their knees as they toiled in hot weather. England's attack was a man short, with left-arm spinner Ashley Giles unable to take the field because of a back spasm.
Matthew Hoggard, who finished with the best England figures of three for 58, said the loss of Giles had been a big blow.
"Ashley could have bowled 20 or 30 overs from one end and locked it up. His absence took a lot of energy out of us. But I thought we stuck to our task well."
Hoggard said England were still in with a chance.
"South Africa's innings was dominated by Jacques Kallis who played tremendously well. But if one or two of our guys can get in we believe we can set a target for the South Africans that will put them under pressure.
In the corresponding match five years ago, South Africa followed on 210 runs behind and scored 572 for seven in the third innings, with Gary Kirsten making 275.
A measure of Kallis' superiority was that no other batsman in the first innings scored a half-century.
The match was evenly poised when Shaun Pollock joined Kallis with South Africa on 118 for six, still 21 runs behind England's first innings total of 139.
At that stage no partnership in the match had been worth more than 31. But Kallis and Pollock put on 87 for the seventh wicket.
As the England bowlers flagged, Kallis shared stands of 38 with Nicky Boje, 50 with Makhaya Ntini and 39 with last man Dale Steyn before he was caught on the square leg boundary. The last four wickets put on 214 runs, with Kallis making 120 of them.
"A lot of credit must go to the South African lower order, especially Shaun Pollock, which just goes to show that you can't buy experience at the supermarket," Kallis said.
"The guys down the order showed a lot of determination and guts, particularly with the England bowlers dishing out a fair number of bouncers," he said.
Kallis, who reached his 18th Test century off 186 balls with 13 fours, added another eight fours and a pulled six off Andrew Flintoff before he tried to hit Hoggard for another six and was held above his head by Paul Collingwood on the boundary.
He faced a total of 264 deliveries in an innings which is likely to be remembered as one of his career highlights.
England had fought their way back into the game at the start of the day, reducing South Africa's run scoring to a trickle with a preponderance of short-pitched bowling.
Hoggard and Steve Harmison, who took three for 91, were England's most successful bowlers but Harmison, who had three for 31 at one stage, took some heavy punishment in the later stages of the innings with Ntini hitting him for three fours off four balls after coming in with the second new ball just four overs old.