Skipper Faf du Plessis hailed one of the best wins of his career after Kagiso Rabada’s five-wicket haul led South Africa to a remarkable turnaround victory in the first Test against Australia on Monday.
Set a mammoth victory target of 539, the home side’s second innings ended on 361 on the final day, handing the visitors victory by 177 runs and maintaining their unbeaten record in four Tests at Perth’s WACA Ground.
The victory looked unthinkable when Australia were 158 for none early on day two in reply to South Africa’s 242, and especially when the visitors lost strike bowler Dale Steyn to a shoulder injury.
Debutant spinner Keshav Maharaj (1-94) delivered the final blow, trapping number 11 Nathan Lyon lbw for eight, the decision upheld despite an Australia review and leaving Peter Nevill unbeaten on 60.
It was Australia’s fourth successive Test defeat, after being beaten in all three Tests on their July-August tour of Sri Lanka, and the first time they had lost the opening Test of their home season since 1988.
“That’s one of the most special days, to turn it around 360 degrees from day one where we were under the pump,” du Plessis said of day two.
“We were a seamer down pretty much the (whole) Test match and we always joke that if you are a seamer down in a three-seamer attack, it is 99 percent impossible.
“Somehow we managed to do it and much of the credit goes to this man (Rabada) and also Keshar (Maharaj).
“That is right up there with the best match in my Test career.”