Cape Town — South Africa go into the fourth Test against England at the Wanderers on Friday with their backs against the wall and skipper Faf du Plessis has called on his charges to "fight for every inch".
Having started the series and the Graeme Smith/Mark Boucher era with a convincing win at Centurion, the Proteas have then slipped to defeats in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth to go 2-1 down in the series with one to play.
The batting, in particular, has been an area of concern for the hosts and it will once again be in the spotlight in Johannesburg as England contemplate fielding all of Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood in what would be a potentially devastating fast bowling line-up.
First innings scores 284, 223 and 209 over the three Tests so far have summed up the batting worries for South Africa where a top order including the inexperience of Pieter Malan, Zubayr Hamza and Rassie van der Dussen has been found wanting.
Temba Bavuma will replace the struggling Hamza at the Wanderers.
Speaking on the eve of the match at his captain's press conference, Du Plessis acknowledged that batting had been his side's biggest issue throughout the series and it was the area that had commanded the most attention this week.
It is too late, Du Plessis added, to formulate new plans for the English. Instead, he was looking for mental strength from himself and the rest of the top order.
"The work that we've put in as a batting unit has been mostly on making sure that we are stronger in rebuilding partnerships and setting up your innings in those first 30 or 40 balls and then, after that, making decisions on your game plan and taking the right options," he said.
"There is not enough time to change techniques with the quick turnaround.
"The secret weapon lies in how strong you can be emotionally and mentally to overturn what was an average performance in PE."
Confidence, Du Plessis added, was lacking.
"Unfortunately, as a batting unit we haven't scored a lot of runs and a lot of us are guilty of that," he said.
"The confidence of scoring runs in matches is what we need, and England has been a good example of that.
"England, since Centurion, have played the better cricket and for us now the only thing that we can make sure we do is fight for every single inch on that field.
"I believe that in situations like this, if you are mentally fragile, teams that are on top of you can just keep running with it."
Play on Friday gets underway at 10:00.
- Compiled by Lloyd Burnard