Nick Compton vindicated his recall with an unbeaten 63 to rescue England from a perilous situation on day one of the first Test against South Africa in Durban.
After two-and-a-half years away from the international scene, the 32-year-old showed excellent patience as he - with the help of James Taylor (70) and then Ben Stokes (5 not out) - guided England to 179-4 when bad light stopped play.
Compton and Taylor's stand of 125 left the visitors in a promising position after starting the first of four Tests by losing three early wickets - including captain Alastair Cook for a duck.
A superb opening spell from Dale Steyn (3-29) saw the returning quick pick up two wickets - he also removed Alex Hales for 10 - while Dane Piedt (1-39) claimed the prize wicket of Joe Root (24).
South Africa's bowling unit continued to probe at Kingsmead but Compton and Taylor were solid in defence, while profiting from anything loose to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Taylor was first to fifty but he was unable to make it to stumps as Steyn returned to break the partnership and give South Africa a lift heading into day two.
After being put into bat by Hashim Amla, England started shakily as Cook struggled to get off the mark.
The England skipper had faced 10 balls without scoring before Steyn had him caught at slip by Dean Elgar, South Africa's strike bowler finding the edge as he jagged one away from Cook.
Rain hindered any immediate progress the hosts would have liked to have made, but once play resumed Steyn was again England's tormentor in chief, teasing Hales to a loose stroke that AB de Villiers clung onto behind the stumps.
Compton and Root gave England brief respite with a 37-run partnership for the third wicket, the latter taking the role of aggressor as he launched Kyle Abbott (0-40) over mid-wicket for six.
His flurry of runs was short-lived, though, as Piedt trapped him lbw with his first ball, a review unable to save England's top batsman as the visitors slumped to 49-3.
The incoming Taylor provided the attacking flair alongside Compton's patience - his unbeaten innings comprising 179 balls - as England clawed themselves back into the match, the new batsman the busier of the two as he used his feet with good effect.
After both men had reached fifty, Taylor was unable to maintain his concentration as Steyn was rewarded for his hard work as he struck again.
De Villiers gleefully hung onto to his second catch of the match but Compton remained resolute in his play, as a third Test century moved slowly into view.