Dean Elgar played a captain's innings as South Africa completed a seven-wicket victory over India in the second Test in Johannesburg on Thursday.
Elgar defied a hostile Indian attack and took many blows to the body en route to an unbeaten 96 on a difficult pitch to deliver a match-winning performance as the hosts chased down 240.
South Africa reached 243-3 near the end of a rain-restricted fourth day to level the series after India had won the first Test in Centurion by 113 runs. The series decider will be played in Cape Town on Tuesday.
"I’d like to think that the knocks just gave me added motivation," Elgar said. "The bigger picture is to win and I wanted to show our young group that sometimes taking the blows can be worth it."
The Proteas were 118-2 overnight but had to wait as the first two sessions were washed out.
Elgar and Rassie van der Dussen resumed their run chase under cloudy skies with the outcome still in the balance as the pitch was expected to favour India's fiery attack.
But the two batsmen dug deep and added 57 more runs in the first hour’s play as they mixed caution with aggression, before Van der Dussen edged Mohammed Shami to first slip and was out for 40.
South Africa still needed 65 to win as the surface started to misbehave and the hosts might have quickly slipped into trouble had Shardul Thakur held onto a catch when new batsmen Temba Bavuma hit the second ball he faced straight back at the bowler.
Thakur was unable to hold on, and Bavuma went on to make full use of his good fortune to finish 23 not out.
But Elgar was the hero, showing great fighting spirit to hand his young team a morale-boosting win. He faced 188 balls, hitting 10 boundaries, missing out on a deserved century.
It was the first time South Africa had beaten India at the Wanderers and keeps alive their hopes of denying the world's top-ranked team a first-ever series victory in the country.
India stand-in captain KL Rahul said the South Africans showed immense courage and deserved the win.
"They really batted well and bowled well. We all felt we could do something special, 122 wasn't going to be that easy to get, the pitch was up and down. But like I said, the South African batsmen were really determined and got the job done," he said.