South Africa won a dramatic second Test against the West Indies in Port of Spain on Wednesday when they bowled the home side out for 162 to record a 69-run triumph to take a one-nil lead in the five match series after the opening draw at the Bourda in Georgetown.
When tea was taken at 143-6 with Carl Hooper unbeaten on 46 and 89 runs still required, the crowd of close to 15 000 had every reason to believe that victory remained a possibility.
But the slide began soon after the final session began and just 19 more runs were added as Hooper watched on in sadness, unbeaten and unbowed at the end with 54 not out from 172 balls in three hours and fifty minutes of classy resistance.
It was, in fact, a remarkable achievement for the home side to get so close after a violent collapse in the first hour that saw them lose three wickets for one run to crash from 50-2 to 51-5 after resuming on their overnight 32-1.
Nightwatchman Dinanath Ramnarine (11) slashed a full length Allan Donald delivery to Jacques Kallis at slip without adding a run but Marlon Samuels (9) played two of the shots of the day while he and opener Chris Gayle (23) brought up the team's half-century.
Then disaster.
Samuels, like Ramnarine, edged Donald to Kallis and Gayle perished as a result of retreating into a defensive shell and abandoning his normally attacking approach. A tentative prod at Shaun Pollock resulted in an edge to 'keeper Mark Boucher.
The most valuable wicket, inevitably, belonged to Brian Lara and it was claimed for the third time in four innings by Makhaya Ntini - with a little help from Dominican umpire Billy Doctrove who enjoyed an otherwise fine match. Lara's delivery, however, pitched a long way outside leg stump. The scorebook shows an 11-ball duck.
Local hopes were revived with a disciplined sixth wicket stand of 92 between Hooper and his 20-year-old fellow Guyanese, Ramnaresh Sarwan, as the two men batted through all but the last 10 minutes of the middle session with the tourists' bowlers looking increasingly desperate.
So desperate, in fact, that Pollock called his disparate team together into a 'huddle' 15 minutes before tea to deliver a motivational team talk. Whether it had any effect or not, the wicket fell five minutes later when Kallis induced a mistimed hook from Sarwan (39) which was superbly held at square leg by a furiously back-peddling Nicky Boje who also had the sun shining in his eyes.
Ridley Jacobs (4) was magnificently run out by a Herschelle Gibbs direct hit from cover five overs after tea and thereafter the end was swift as a fired-up Kallis, who should have had Nixon McLean caught behind first ball, ripped into the tailenders.
McLean (2) duly saved some of umpire Daryl Hair's considerable blushes by edging Kallis once again to Boucher - this time for 'real' - and Mervyn Dillon was trapped lbw in the same over for a second ball duck.
Some of the gloss from a brilliant Test for Courtney Walsh was removed when Pollock hit his off stump to win the match, but by then there were still over 20 overs remaining and he could not have been expected to survive that long.