Cape Town: South African captain Graeme Smith ended a period of personal torment and hailed "one of the great comebacks in Test cricket history" after South Africa sealed an eight-wicket win by lunch on the third day of the first Test against Australia at Newlands on Friday.
Smith and Amla hit centuries as South Africa cruised to victory less than 24 hours after they conceded a 188-run first innings deficit in one of the most topsy-turvy Tests in history.
The South African captain praised the resilience of his team, who bowled Australia out for 47 in the second innings, leaving the home side with a target of 236.
Smith said the talk at the end of the first innings, in which South Africa were bowled out for 96, was less about motivation than specifics. "It was about what we wanted to achieve. We never expected 21 for nine (which Australia were before a 26-run last-wicket stand), although there were a few jokes about 60 or 70 but I don't think anyone believed it. It was about a bit of direction and the bowlers knew they needed to do a job for us.
"That shows the character of the team. We didn't just back off. Obviously there was something in the wicket for us but to bowl with that intensity was a good sign."
Both Smith and man-of-the-match Vernon Philander said they took inspiration from Australia's Shane Watson, who took five for 17 to shoot South Africa out. "Watson got the ball to talk and we learned something from that," said Smith. "He was very tight on off stump. There was enough movement each way to create chances. We really focused on that coming out to bowl. I thought our execution and the way the bowlers bowled was terrific."