South Africa will go into day four of the second and final Test 150 runs adrift of Sri Lanka but head coach Russell Domingo says they remain positive and hopeful that they can still win the game.
Despite Hashim Amla's brilliant unbeaten 139, the Proteas were bowled out for 282 replying to Sri Lanka's 421 in Colombo.
Sri Lanka, who must win the match to level the series, then closed on 11 without loss to keep themselves in a commanding position with two days to go.
"How we start with the new ball tomorrow is going to be very important," Domingo said.
"If we can get them under a little bit of pressure, they might take a little bit longer to get their runs.
They might be 60 for four, or there might be a lead of 240 with six or seven down with us ending up chasing 240 with four sessions to play.
"You are still very much in the game if this situation arises."
Amla faced 382 balls during his 22nd Test century and Domingo paid tribute to his patience as he became the first South African captain to score a Test ton in Sri Lanka.
"He was really patient," Domingo said about Amla's eight-hour knock.
"He applied himself really well. He has got his strategy and game plan that he wants to employ and he stuck to that extremely well today.
"Runs and time are such crucial aspects," Domnigo added.
"It would have been great to have got another 100 runs but it would have also been great to have scored 50 runs less and batted for another three or four hours.
"We know we have a lot of hard work ahead of us in this Test match."
However, he brought up a couple of recent examples of South African fightbacks to support his case that they could still win this game.
"They have done it before and it's at times like this where we will fall back from the experiences of past performances," he said.
"You don't need to think too far back; this side has been in positions where it hasn't looked like they have a chance of surviving and then getting really close to surviving.
"If you look at the last Test match against Australia, we were three down in the first 10 overs and lost it with three overs to spare.
"We did it in Adelaide and we did it in Johannesburg against India. You call on those experiences at times like this."
© Cricket World 2014