Adelaide: Australian media Tuesday praised the rearguard action by South Africa to save the second Test and said their survival will feel like a win going into the third and deciding showdown this week.
Debutant Faf du Plessis batted throughout the final day for a defiant unbeaten century to guide the Proteas to a thrilling draw in Adelaide, spending almost eight hours at the crease in a feat of physical and mental endurance.
"No faffing about from Du Plessis," said the Sydney Morning Herald, with cricket writer Malcolm Knox saying the match had everything bar a winner.
"Or maybe not," he added.
"South Africa's survival will certainly feel like a win as they go into Friday's decider, while Australia's failure to dismiss them in 148 overs will deflate their self-belief beyond quick repair."
The Australian newspaper called Australia's inability to nail the win an "heroic failure" while praising the contribution from Du Plessis, who was at the crease for 464 minutes and faced 376 balls in his draining 110.
"One of the joys of Test cricket is when a player explores the limits of their capabilities, proves something they always wondered if they could do, finds a reserve hidden even from themselves," the paper's Gideon Haigh wrote.
"Faf du Plessis discovered some things about himself in this marathon Test match in Adelaide -- as have his opponents."
Sydney's Daily Telegraph also praised Du Plessis' "dogged debut" while bemoaning Australia's inability to find a consistent top order.
While David Warner got a century in the match, Ed Cowan, Rob Quiney and Ricky Ponting all struggled, with the run-scoring burden being shouldered by Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey.
Quiney was dropped for Perth after making a pair of ducks with Shane Watson returning.
The Telegraph's cricket writer Malcolm Conn said the top order was not sustainable as it was.
"The bottom line is Australia need to find a more functional and stable top order than the one which has left them three wickets down for under 100 on 16 occasions in the past 16 Tests," he said.
Australia must win the series in Perth, which starts Friday, to take the world number one ranking from South Africa.