Faf hails unsung heroes

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They, of course, heard the merry-making in the away dressing room for the first time in 2008 when the Proteas chased down 414 to win the first Test. The celebrations were even louder though in 2012 when the series was won here.

After after Monday’s epic 177-run victory that allowed the Proteas to clutch hold of an all-important 1-0 lead in the three-match series, captain Faf du Plessis warned the local authorities they should prepare for another evening of revelry.

"There will definitely be a few drinks to share with this man (looking across to Man of the Match Kagiso Rabada) and to enjoy the occasion and the guys’ success. We worked hard for it. It's important to celebrate games like this. Test matches wins are very, very special. Every time you win a Test you must celebrate. But we also know we've got one step in the right direction but we are very far from winning the series," Du Plessis said.

The refreshments would have tasted even sweeter too due to the fact that it was a victory earned with the sum contribution from South Africa’s diamond-studded triumvirate AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn and Hashim Amla amounting to a single wicket and a single run.Instead it was a conquest built on the astute leadership of a stand-in captain that somehow managed to get a 21-year-old fast bowler, batsmen who were fighting their own demons, an all-rounder that flatters to deceive and a wicket-keeper/batsman that sings to his own tune along with a debutant left-arm off spinner to all come together and pull off one of the greatest heists in South African cricket history.

And all of this after being 34/4 on the first morning of the series. If that doesn’t push this victory high up on the list of all time "best ever" Test victories by a South African team, then Kagiso Rabada probably comes from a "village" like a certain Channel 9 commentator assumed incorrectly onday.

The win, which came when Test debutant Keshav Maharaj wrapped Australian last man Nathan Lyon the pads, was certainly a fitting end to a match that belonged to the entire Proteas team. "Champion" fast bowler Rabada may be deserving of all the plaudits that will naturally come his way for his sensational performance in the absence of Steyn, but it would not have been possible were it not for the 26-year-old working the trenches on the other side. Maharaj bowled 40.1 overs of controlled left-arm spin to finish with figures of 1/94 at an economy rate of just 2.34.

The true value of Maharaj’s numbers only comes to light when placed in direct comparison to Lyon’s 0/146 from 34 overs, which left Australia’s most successful Test off-spinner with an economy rate of 4.29.

"He relentlessly bowled in a good area and made sure we could rotate guys. There was a period of dead cricket. We knew Vernon and KG [Rabada] weren't going to bowl much so it was a process of getting there," Du Plessis said of debutant’s contribution.

"That time in between getting the ball to reverse was the time to completely kill the game and that was Keshav. That allowed us to play around with our bowlers and luckily, the bowlers stepped up and we got the wickets."

Equally Du Plessis had high praise for another unsung hero in the Proteas team. JP Duminy has often had to play second fiddle to the likes of De Villiers and Amla – and even Du Plessis too – due to his position lower down in the Proteas batting line-up. But now having found a home at No 4 in De Villiers’s injury-enforced absence, the captain believes the best is yet to come from his "brother from another mother" after the left-hander's match-turning 141 in the second innings here.

"The extra responsibility on JP is something he has really enjoyed. He looked really confident," Du Plessis said. "He was practising well. His body language was positive. It's not a guarantee but it's a sign and I felt JP's cricket was about to turn in a positive way. He has played really well. That's one of his best knocks he has ever played. He moved brilliantly. Even throwing the ball to him now, I know he is so confident. It's great for his future in the game."

**South Africa have called up Highveld Lions all-rounder Dwaine Pretorius for the injured Steyn for the remaining two Tests in Hobart and Adelaide.

Independent Media

Lots has been made of Kagiso Rabada’s performance at the WACA, but players like Keshav Maharaj and JP Duminy also made significant contributions to the cause.

Original source: Faf hails unsung heroes

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