AB de Villiers, Kagiso Rabada were the catalyst for South Africa victory    Getty Images
AB de Villiers, Kagiso Rabada were the catalyst for South Africa victory Getty Images

AB de Villiers magnificent century and Kagiso Rabada’s magic with the ball helped South Africa levelled the series against Australia at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth. Australia started off strongly but de Villiers responded with his Test century that came after 3 years. He got support from the lower order and put up a lead of 139. Australia, on the other hand, were skittled soon with the help of Rabada 6-for and set up 101 for South Africa to win. Hashim Amla and de Villiers managed the task with their 49-run stand to see South Africa home. Faf du Plessis and Theunis de Bruyn remained unbeaten on 2 and 15 respectively.

The second Test, too, witnessed drama. This time it was on the field. Rabada’s aggression cost him heavily. He was charged first for brushing shoulders with Steven Smith and is charged with level 2 offence. The hearing for the same would be announced after the match. On Monday, Rabada once again gave bad-tempered send off to David Warner for which he has been charged level one offence.

Electing to bat, Australia were bundled for 243. Rabada ripped the heart out of Australia’s batting when he ended with figures of 5 for 39. He took the crucial wickets of Smith, Marsh brothers, Shaun and Mitchell. With his remaining ball in the over, Rabada had Pat Cummins caught behind to be on a hat-trick. He didn’t manage that but 11 balls later he bowled Mitchell Starc.

Cameron Bancroft and David Warner survived a testing first hour, scoring only 23 runs in 14 overs, then seemed to have taken control as they added 75 runs in the next hour, only for Bancroft to be out for 38 off the last ball before lunch. Two more wickets fell quickly after the interval, including that of Warner for 63, made off 100 balls with nine fours. Warner let his bat do the talking after the fall out with Quinton de Kock in the first Test.

In response, de Villiers completed a majestic century and had good support from the tail built a lead of 139. De Villiers remained unbeaten on 126 before South Africa were all out for 382 shortly before the scheduled lunch break. Vernon Philander (36) and Keshav Maharaj (30) helped de Villiers added 84 for the eighth wicket and 58 for the ninth wicket as South Africa dominated a sunny morning.

De Villiers hit 20 fours and a six in a 146-ball innings. It was his 22nd Test century and his sixth against Australia. Philander played a solid innings, while Maharaj slammed two sixes and three fours off 24 balls. Steven Smith’s direct hit in the covers ran out last man Lungi Ngidi at the bowler s end.

Australia, on the other hand, were bundled for 239 setting target of 101 to win. Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Marsh shared a fighting a fighting fifth wicket partnership of 87. Khawaja was trapped for 136-ball 75 while Marsh was gone for 45. Rabada took three of the five Australian wickets that fell on Monday to finish with six for 54. He had match figures of 11 for 150.

The third Test will be played at Newlands in Cape Town from March 22.

Brief Scores

Australia 243 & 239 all out (Usman Khawaja 75, Mitchell Marsh 45; Kagiso Rabada 6 for 90, Lungi Ngidi 2 for 24) lose to South Africa 382 & 102 for 4 (Hashim Amla 27, AB de Villiers 28; Nathan Lyon 2 for 44) by 6 wickets.

Player of the Match: Kagiso Rabada