Graeme Smith was out for three in his final international innings as South Africa were reduced to 71-4 chasing a target of 511 at the close on day four of the third Test against Australia.
South Africa's long-serving captain and opening batsman announced the previous evening that he would retire at the end of the winner-takes-all match at Newlands, Cape Town.
He was kept in the field until mid-afternoon on day four while Australia opener David Warner went about completing his second century of the match.
Warner's 145 - to go with his 135 in the first innings - set up a declaration from the tourists at 303-5, a lead of 510.
Smith was given a guard of honour by Michael Clarke's side as he walked out to start South Africa's run chase but, with the home side already in trouble following the early loss of Alviro Petersen, he fell in only the fourth over.
The left-hander attempted to clip a short-pitched delivery from paceman Mitchell Johnson to fine-leg, but he edged the ball onto his thigh-pad and Alex Doolan at short-leg pouched the chance.
The 33-year-old, who faced only three balls, was given a standing ovation as he made his way back to the pavilion for the final time in his 347th appearance for his country.
Smith retires as the most-capped Test captain in history having been handed the role after the 2003 World Cup despite being only 22.
He made 9,265 Test runs with 27 centuries and a top score of 277, but he managed only 45 runs in six innings in the current series against Australia, which was level at 1-1 coming into the decider.
Johnson (2-31) also bowled Dean Elgar for a duck with the final ball before tea as South Africa slipped to 15-3.
A half-century stand between Hashim Amla and Smith's likely successor AB de Villiers at least ensured the match would go into a final day.
Amla went lbw for 41 late on to James Pattinson (1-13) and nightwatchman Kyle Abbott (1no) joined De Villiers (16no) through to stumps.
Warner had earlier dominated an opening stand of 123 with Chris Rogers as Australia built their lead in morning session.
Resuming on 27-0, already 234 ahead, Warner raced to a 41-ball half-century and, by the time Rogers was run out for 39 by Dale Steyn's direct hit from the boundary, was closing in on his third century of the series.
South Africa's premier fast bowler Steyn, nursing a hamstring strain, bowled three overs in mid-morning. He started with a maiden but the next two went for 21 runs and he did not return for a second spell.
Warner advanced to his eighth Test hundred, half of which have come against South Africa, in the company of Doolan shortly after lunch.
Doolan was not at his most fluent during a 87-ball 37 that ended with a top edge to Abbott on the boundary off Morne Morkel's bowling.
Abbott (3-61) picked up the wickets of Shane Watson, Michael Clarke and, finally, Warner in the chase for quick runs.
Watson was caught at point for 25, first-innings centurion Clarke chipped to mid-off for a first-ball duck and Warner edged behind aiming into the leg side, ending a 156-ball stay that featured 13 fours and four sixes.
Steve Smith hit 36 not out from 20 deliveries before the declaration came with half-an-hour until tea.