Faf du Plessis could not hide his joy on Monday in Perth. After not having AB de Villiers and losing Dale Steyn midway in the first Test Down Under, his team still managed to beat the Australians by 177 runs at the WACA.
The South African skipper went on heaping praise on his 21-year-old pacer Kagiso Rabada, who picked up his third five-wicket haul of his career. The right-arm pacer was at his absolute best on the last two days of the Test, in which he hit the perfect line and length and troubled the Aussie batsmen by moving the cherry both ways.
Steyn's setback seemed to spur the South Africans, who made a stunning comeback in the first innings, after letting David Warner and Shaun Marsh pile up 158 runs for the opening stand, to bowl out Australia for 244 before piling up 540 runs in their second innings.
Rabada stepped up in the absence of South Africa's lead bowler in the second innings and battled fatigue to keep the Australians at check. An elated Du Plessis, who was bowled over by his "champion bowler", made a light-hearted remark expressing his love at the post-match press conference.
"I am sleeping with him tonight," Du Plessis said, as quoted by the Fox Sports.
"Every time I said to him 'KG are you tired, are you done?' he was like 'no, you're not taking the ball out of my hands'.
"That's the sign of a champion bowler for me. Just someone who wants to be in the fight the whole time.''
"I'm just incredibly proud of him. I have a lot of respect for anyone that really, really puts their hand up and does the hard yards and KG just wanted the ball."
Rabada's fiery spells in the second innings made sure South Africa ended Australia's 18-match unbeaten run at home. The right-arm pacer revealed that his teammates had to do extra work to compensate for the loss of Steyn.
"I am very proud of how the team pulled it together. We lost Dale, he's a key aspect of the game. All the bowlers have a job to do, when Dale is gone, it means we have to do extra," Rabada was quoted as saying by the ESPNCricinfo.