Kagiso Rabada will miss the rest of the Test series against Australia after bowling South Africa to a stunning win in the second match on Monday night.
Australia captain Steve Smith admitted his side was “outplayed in every aspect of the game” after South Africa won the second Test by six wickets to square the four-match series at 1-1.
Smith’s admission was a fair reflection of a clash the hosts dominated in Port Elizabeth, even if they lost four wickets en route to a victory target of 101 on Monday.
Rabada was handed a two match ban shortly after earning man-of-the-match honours when he returned figures of 11-150 in the second Test, including 6-54 in the second innings.
The fired-up quick was handed four demerit points and fined 65 per cent of his match fee from the game at St George’s Park.
Rabada earned three points for making physical contact with Smith on day one, and copped one point for screaming in the face of David Warner during a send-off on day three.
Match referee Jeff Crowe conducted a hearing on the first send-off, ruling he could “not see any evidence to support the argument that the contact was accidental”.
The Proteas are seeking legal advice and have 48 hours to lodge a formal appeal. Rabada will remain suspended if he appeals, although South Africa could attempt to convince the judicial commissioner that he should be allowed to play.
Australia resumed on day four at 5-180 and was soon skittled for 239 at the hands of Rabada.
That left South Africa with a small chase and it was relatively untroubled, with attention now turning to Rabada’s fight to play in the remainder of the series.
“We fought right ‘til the end but weren’t good enough and were outplayed,” Smith said afterwards.
“They outplayed us in every aspect of the game … AB [de Villiers, who hit a first-innings century for South Africa] was obviously unbelievable and probably a big difference between the two sides.
“It was probably when the ball started reversing [reverse swing] we let ourselves down a bit. Rabada bowled exceptionally well obviously.
“1-1, halfway point – makes for an exciting rest of the series.”
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis was proud of his side.
“Pretty much for this whole four days that we’ve played, we’ve been in a position of strength,” he said.
“That’s a great turnaround from the first Test where it was pretty much the opposite.”
Du Plessis also hailed Rabada as an “absolute champion of a bowler” and said any potential ban – which seems likely – would be “disappointing for this series”.
Not enough runs on the board
If Australia was any chance of defending the small target, it needed to take every chance so when Mitch Marsh dropped Aiden Markram (21) at first slip in the second over, frustration was high.
Dean Elgar (five) fell on the stroke of lunch, caught and bowled by Nathan Lyon (2-44 off nine overs) from a leading edge, and Markram was dismissed just after play resumed when he edged Josh Hazlewood (1-26 off six) to Smith at second slip.
That left South Africa at 2-32 and Hashim Amla (27) then survived a nervy moment when Australia referred an unsuccessful lbw appeal.
But an aggressive AB de Villiers cameo took the game away from Australia as he hit four fours and one six in a 26-ball 28.
That meant that despite Amla and de Villiers falling with the score on 81 – to Pat Cummins (1-13 off 4.5) and Lyon respectively – South Africa was as good as home, with Theunis de Bruyn (15 not out) and skipper Faf du Plessis (two not out) guiding the hosts over the finish line.
Early wickets hurt Aussies
Mitch Marsh resumed day four on 39 not out and was key to Australia’s chances of an unlikely victory.
He did not even make it through the first over of the day, though, bowled by Rabada having added just six runs to his overnight score.
Rabada then picked up another five-wicket haul with the scalp of Cummins (five) and he soon made it six as Mitchell Starc (one) edged behind.
Australia’s task looked beyond it when Lyon also fell cheaply, for five, but Tim Paine (28 not out) and Hazlewood (17) at least pushed the tourists’ advantage beyond 100.
A 28-run partnership started to frustrate South Africa but Hazlewood holed out in the deep off Keshav Maharaj (2-90 off 23), setting the Proteas a chase that proved more than gettable.
The third Test begins in Cape Town on March 22.