If this is the last we see of Kagiso Rabada in this series, at least he would have exited in style.
Bowling up the hill at St George's Park, Rabada's mid-afternoon blast torched through Australia and was the difference between a day South Africa could be fairly pleased with and one that might have reminded them of the first innings in Durban. His spell was one for ages, and will be remembered for single-handedly dragging his side back into an innings that could easily have got away from them.
South Africa had started in pristine fashion on Friday morning and only conceded 23 runs in the first hour, largely thanks to Vernon Philander's opening spell of 7-3-5-0. But they stained the morning session with their performance in the second hour, in which they leaked 48 runs in five overs as Rabada and Lungi Ngidi dished out half-volleys.
Post-lunch, South Africa were more disciplined and rewarded with the wickets of Usman Khawaja and David Warner but it was not until Rabada angled a delivery into a shuffling Steven Smith, who missed the inside edge and was hit on the back pad, that South Africa were truly back in the game.
The dismissal had a greater impact than merely removing Australia's captain because Rabada followed up with animated send-off and was obviously pumped up. In his next over, he got Shaun Marsh, also lbw looking to flick, and three balls later, an ill Mitchell Marsh nicked off against a reverse-swinging delivery. Rabada took three wickets in six balls to signal tea. Immediately after the interval, he removed Pat Cummins with one that moved away and bowled Mitchell Starc - that moved away, too, and clipped off stump.
The key to Rabada's destruction was that he pitched the ball up and got it to move both ways. In just 18 balls - three overs - he changed the complexion of the day and underlined his own greatness. He is only 22, but we can call him that because Rabada is already in elite company.
He has the second-best figures (13 for 144) by a South African bowler in a Test match, behind Makhaya Ntini's 13 for 132, and is the joint-third fastest South African as well as the youngest South African to 100 Test wickets. Now, he is also third best for taking five wickets in the least number of balls. Rabada's five came in the space of 18 balls; Jacques Kallis needed 12 against Bangladesh in 2002, and Steyn 16 against West Indies in 2010.
Not even Steyn, who had taken 4 for 55 in a searing reverse-swinging second-innings spell to win the match for South Africa against Australia at this venue four years ago, enjoyed the Park Drive End. He admitted as much in a congratulatory tweet to his team-mate: "Never easy bowling up the hill at St George's Park. KG just killed it! Only other player who ever enjoyed that end was the infamous @RustyTheron #MenWhoDoItTheHardWay."
Theron, who is currently studying in the USA, played his domestic cricket at this venue, and though he became known as a white-ball, death-bowling specialist, he spent many a summer snaffling wickets from the more difficult end of the ground with reverse swing. Rabada is a few clicks quicker than Theron, which only makes him more dangerous.
"The thing with reverse swing is once you have a bit of pace on it, you are always going to be threatening," Vernon Philander said. "I don't think it went big today - there was a hint of it but KG hit his lengths well, which was key on this wicket."
Before this match, Faf du Plessis named Rabada as the only member of his attack who can exploit a reverse-swinging ball. South Africa need him, but they might not have him when they need him the most in this series.
Rabada came into this match, having accumulated five demerit points over the last 13 months. A further three points before February next year will see Rabada suspended for two Test matches. After a shoulder brush with Australian captain Smith, Rabada could be charged with a Level 2 offence for making inappropriate and deliberate contact with another player. If found guilty, he will earn a minimum of three demerit points...
Even if he isn't charged, Rabada now needs to take serious stock of his celebrations. For the third time since July, he has been overly enthusiastic in sending a batsman off.
In the first Test against England at Lord's, Rabada told Ben Stokes to "f*** off" after dismissing him. There was history between them after Stokes had sledged Temba Bavuma - Rabada's former Lions' team-mate and close friend - in the series in South Africa in early 2016. Although Rabada insists him and Stokes are "cool" off the field, they are hot on it. Rabada earned a one-Test ban after that because he already had three demerit points from a shoulder barge on Niroshan Dickwella from earlier in the year.
Then, at this very ground in an ODI against India last month, Rabada waved Shikhar Dhawan off before spitting out the same expletive. Another demerit point.
At Kingsmead, Rabada gave David Warner a send-off but it did not appear to include swearing; he passed his arm over his mouth as he completed his sentence. Here, he didn't. Shouting "Yes, yes," in Smith's face may not be particularly threatening, but the shoulder contact that followed might attract the ICC's attention. The consequences could be serious.
South Africa seem to know as much because they did not bring him to the post-day press conference for fear he would be asked about his indiscretion and his answer would be incriminatory. Instead, Rabada could now spend the evening pondering the words of Michael Holding, who has tried to impress him on the need to keep himself in check.
"Kagiso gets a little bit carried away. I have spoken to him a few times about it to try and get him to relax a bit," Holding told ESPNcricinfo in his post-day analysis. "He's very emotional; he wears his heart on his sleeve. Everything he does, he wants people to see him being very involved. He has to just try and control himself a little bit. Shouting yes, brushing close to a player, that's not quite the way to go. You can shout and go after your team-mates and hug them or kiss them or whatever you want to do. But leave the opposition alone."
Except with the ball.