When Australia arrived at St George’s Park for the second cricket Test last week, they were cock-a-hoop.
When the teams leave Port Elizabeth, it will be the South Africans who will have the skip in their step after beating the tourists by six wickets to square the four-match series at 1-1.
Kagiso Rabada was the man of the moment — and the match — as he took 6/54 in Australia’s second innings of 239 to bag a match analysis of 11/150, the third best by any Test bowler at St George’s Park.
It was the fourth time in his 28-Test career that he has taken 10 or more wickets in a match.
SA lost four wickets in chasing the 101 runs needed for victory, but in the end it was a comfortable win on the back of Rabada’s effort and AB de Villiers’s fine first-innings century.
"That’s an incredible Test match for us, especially after the tough loss in the first Test in Durban where we were put under pressure for most of the test," Proteas captain Faf du Plessis said.
"To turn it around like we did, especially losing the toss, them being 90/1 in the first session… this was just a great Test match for me and showed off the huge pride and character that is in our team. They were on top of us for most of the time [in Durban], but in this match it was the other way around," Du Plessis added.
The skipper also heaped praise on Rabada for his special role in the Test.
"A lot has been said about how amazing KG’s rise has been. Best strike rate in the world at the moment… or ever. To have him in your side as a captain is a huge pleasure," said Du Plessis.
"The skill with which he makes the ball talk in both directions. Both teams have very high-class reverse swing bowlers. But what makes KG special for me is that he does it both ways and at pace.
"He doesn’t give a lot of bad balls away. And I honestly think he will get better."
When asked if he had been more pumped up for this match after the shenanigans of Durban, Rabada said his preparation had been no different.
"Before every Test match, you try and prepare on what you think is going to get wickets. And yes, there is motivation, it’s a big series against Australia.
"The whole team was motivated. But those performances happen on their own when you exercise your skills," said the 22-year-old.
"There’s a lot to play for. There is a whole lot of emotion, pride. You don’t want to roll over, you want to get them out. It’s competitive.
"There is a history of SA and Australia playing against each other. You are playing for the No1 spot. So there’s a whole lot that you are playing for.
"You are playing for personal and team milestones and in the end it all just comes out."
The teams now move on to Cape Town for the third Test at Newlands, starting on Thursday, March 22.