Dom Sibley classified day four of Newlands Test as ‘one of the best days’ of his life as he struck his maiden Test hundred which put England in a dominating position.
Set a world record 438 to win the Test, South Africa were 126 for two at the close of day four at Newlands, Cape Town.
Stokes, on the other hand, played an aggressive role as he slammed a quick fire 47-ball 72, shutting down South Africa’s chances of winning the game.
Sibley, who struck an unbeaten 133, said he spent a sleepless night on Sunday as he needed 15 runs more to get to his hundred. He also praised Ben Stokes’ role as the latter took the pressure off with his rapid stroke play.
"It made it really easy for me to go at my tempo," said Sibley. "When he was whacking it everywhere and I was nurdling it around and playing and missing it was nice that at the other end he was doing the scoring."
England's batting on fourth day was radically different as compared to the third day where they had scored only 219 runs in 79 overs.
But Stokes’ onslaught helped England score 157 runs in the first session before declaring on 391 for eight.
Sibley said he was awestruck by the way Stokes and Buttler were able to pull quicks like Anrich Nortje, who can bowl up to 155 km/h. Buttler, who scored 23 off 18, struck two sixes in his innings.
"I'm usually just ducking –- and Stokesy was reverse-sweeping fast bowlers. They are incredible talents. It was great fun to watch them from the other end,” said Sibley.
South Africa then ground England with resilient batting as the visitors could only take two wickets in 56 overs.
Opening batsman Pieter Malan, who is making his Test debut, scored a patient 63* and stitched half-century partnerships with Dean Elgar (34) and Zubayr Hamza.
Zubayr Hamza was undone by an away-swinger by James Anderson in the second last over of the day. The set-up of the dismissal was vintage Anderson - few in-swingers followed up with an away-swinger, inducing an outside edge.
Earlier, Elgar was dismissed off Joe Denly’s leg-break which was his first wicket in Test cricket.
South Africa will look to bat out the last day on a pitch, which according to batting consultant Jacques Kallis, has flattened out.
"I've seen some crazy things happen," added Kallis. "We've just got to bat normally and face as many balls as we can. As long as we make England fight for our wickets and don't give away soft ones, who knows what can happen."
Kallis lavished praise on debutant Malan, who, according to Kallis, showed a lot of mental toughness against a quality bowling attack.
"He's got a lot of cricket under his belt. He's got a good technique and played the situation perfectly. He's very organised and he's a fighter. I was very impressed with his mental capabilities."
South Africa’s tactic of not taking the second new ball backfired as England continued to chip away at a decent scoring rate. Kallis defended this decision as he expected older ball to misbehave against Ben Stokes.
"We knew Stokes was going to come out to play," he said. "With the rough there for (left-arm spinner) Keshav (Maharaj) bowling to the left-hander and the ball a bit soft, we thought hopefully one would misbehave if he tried to go early on."
The fact that Anrich Nortje didn’t come out to bowl at the start of play due to illness was also another factor behind this decision.