South Africa rose from the ashes to deliver a thumping knockout punch of 340 runs and embarrass England at Trent Bridge, led by their superb skipper, Faf du Plessis. England were staring at defeat by the end of third day with 474 to chase down and two full days remaining on a pitch which was cracking down.
South African pace bowlers ran in strong on day four and had England two down in no time courtesy Vernon Philander when their skipper, Joe Root joined hands with Alastair Cook. England knew that their hopes of stealing a draw rested on these two but then Faf du Plessis and Chris Morris pulled off a heist.
Morris, known for his limited-over lines in Test cricket was surprisingly tasked with softening Joe Root.
The move worked wonders as Morris delivered a superb yorker to clean-up Root thus effectively ending their hopes in the Test match. Once Cook departed the formalities were completed in no time by Proteas as they levelled the series with a performance that would make Graeme Smith's world-beating team proud.
Brief Scores: South Africa 335 (Amla 78, Anderson 5/72) & 343/9d (Amla 87, Moeen 4/78) beat England 205 (Root 78, Maharaj 3/21) & 133 (Cook 42, Philander 3/24)
Have a glance at the talking points from the Test match.
#5 Mark Wood under scrutiny
While James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes all played their roles to perfection in the two Tests of the series thus far, Mark Wood has endured tough times. While he bowled the quickest delivery by an England bowler in the game, Wood was nowhere near good enough to warrant a spot for the third Test.
That Root failed to extract the best from Wood would be harsh, but the captain should be able to tell the bowler exactly why he is in the team. Wood isn't there to bowl the fourth stump line all day long. He is there for his pace and intimidating bouncers. He is there to push batsmen on the back foot and then york them out.
Wood is there to do what Chris Morris did to perfection in the Test match. If anything, he could take a leaf out of how Du Plessis managed the dynamic bowler.
#4 Keshav Maharaj's dream outing
A six-fer on dusty, turning tracks might make spinners proud but nothing makes them happier than contributing in difficult conditions with odds stacked against them. Maharaj was dumped to the fences by Root and co. at the start of this series.
But he has found his mojo and delivered a performance that would go down in history books as one of the finest by a South African spinner.
Maharaj managed to scalp vital wickets at vital points in the game, none more important than his twin strikes in the first innings which involved Ben Stokes and Johnny Bairstow. He had the latter in the second innings as well making it the third time in the series that Maharaj has gotten rid of Bairstow.
With this performance, there is no doubting the spinner's role in this side.
#3 England's top-order concerns
It wouldn't be an understatement to say that England's top order batting has been woeful save for Joe Root. Alastair Cook seems content with his 40s and Keaton Jennings looks lost against his former countrymen.
Root has tried the counter-attacking tactic twice in the series and pulled it off once, but one shot too many led to his dismissal the second time around.
Gary Ballance has rarely looked in his comfort zone with Philander's seam movement and Morkel's around the wicket angle both causing problems. Bairstow has resisted but Maharaj has persisted.
All in all, England have to rethink about their top-order for the third Test and with Tom Westley and Mark Stoneman staking strong claims, atleast one of Jennings and Ballance could be dropped.
#2 There is no stopping Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander
How often has a fast bowler in his 30s on his comeback trail bowled as well as Morne Morkel has done in England? Using his height to generate discombobulating bounce and his angle against England's clueless left-handers, Morkel has been the perfect foil for an impeccable Vernon Philander.
Buoyed by Morkel's opening spells, Philander has gone about his business with little fuss and has caused problems in plenty for the England batsmen. The duo have revoked memories of South Africa's most famous away wins under Graeme Smith.
If England need a respite, their top order needs to figure out a way to handle Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel.
#1 Faf du Plessis, the leader that inspired a majestic comeback
Done and dusted at Lord's, it seemed like South Africa's wretched tour thus far was taking a turn for the worse. They did little to help themselves in the first Test but enter Faf du Plessis, the leader that had led them to a stunning series win in Australia a few months back.
True leaders have it in them to turn copper to gold and Du Plessis did just that. He inspired his men to outperform themselves.
De Kock was pushed to four, Morris given the license to attack, Olivier provided a confidence boost and he used Maharaj, a spinner, in a role that more than covered up for the loss of Rabada.