After the action-filled Durban Test match for events pertaining to both on and off the field, the focus shifted to St. Georges Park, Port Elizabeth. Australia managed to win the series opener at Kingsmead and was now looking to assert their dominance on the tour.
Hosts South Africa had to display their mettle after the loss at Durban. Steve Smith won the toss and elected to bat first on a visibly damp pitch. However, openers David Warner and Cameron Bancroft won the first session of the Test match without losing many wickets.
Australians were looking to take the early advantage to put up a matchwinning total before they faced the wrath of Kagiso Rabada. The South African spearhead ripped apart then Australian bowling line up by clinching 4 wickets within a space of seven balls.
Rabada clinched his eighth five-wicket haul as Australia were bundled out for a below par 243. Warner was the only shining light in the Australian effort as he posted 63 runs for the side.
Kagiso’s efforts in the first innings were only eclipsed by the brilliance of AB de Villiers. With falling around him, AB stood like the Rock of Gibraltar to remain unbeaten at 126.
AB de Villiers, with the help of some priceless contribution from the tail, powered the Proteans to take a 139 lead by posting 382. AB’s counter-attacking knock came at an electric strike rate of 86, filled with 20 boundaries and a maximum.
Hashim Amla and Dean Elgar also provided a crucial vigil at the crease for their respective half-centuries. When we look at the match, it was the case of two ace cricketers for Proteas competing for excellence.
Rabada, yet again, was simply sensational in the second innings to bag a six wickets haul and restricting the Aussies to only 239. KG took his fourth 10-wicket haul and now is the youngest bowler to acquire the feat in Test cricket.
For Australia, Khawaja was the lone man standing with his 75 runs which only helped his side gain a slender 101 run lead. Batting fourth, South Africa looked to easily chase down the total but suffered a hiccup in the middle with the loss of top four wickets.
In the end, it was the captain, Faf du Plessis and Theunis De Bruyn who completed the formality for their side. The Proteas won the match by a convincing margin of 6 wickets and level the 4-match series at 1-1.
Kagiso Rabada was awarded as the man of the match for his eleven wickets in the match. His send-off to Steve Smith was the talking point of the match which earned him a Level 1 offence.
With 5 Demerit points already registered, Rabada is now looking at a 2-match ban, which rules him out of the rest of the series.
Australia would take a sigh of relief even with the loss at PE. The action now moves to the Newlands, Cape Town, with everything to play for the two teams.
Australia 1st Innings 243-10 (71.3); David Warner 63(100), Kagiso Rabada 5/96
South Africa 1st Innings 382-10 (118.4); AB de Villiers 126*(146), Pat Cummins 3/79
Australia 2nd Innings 239-10 (79); Usman Khawaja 75(136), Kagiso Rabada 6/54
South Africa 2nd Innings 102-4 (22.5), Hashim Amla 27(42), Nathan Lyon 2/44
South Africa won by 6 wickets