South Africa captain Dean Elgar admits he had to show some tough love to his players, which he believes lay behind their turnaround in fortunes to win a pulsating Test series against India.
Elgar was left a proud man on Friday after guiding his originally unfancied side to a seven-wicket victory over India that enabled them to claim the series 2-1.
The home side had been well beaten by 113 runs in the first Test in Pretoria, but bounced back, against expectations with their young team, to win in both Johannesburg and Cape Town against the No.1 ranked team in the world.
"We have a young, talented group," Elgar told reporters. "The experience isn't there, but we are gaining it and getting better every day.
"It was unreal to see how a group that doesn't have the 'names' could gel together and play as one. This is a proper unit. It was a proper team win."
Elgar admits he did not pull any punches after the loss in Pretoria and says there were some tough conversations within the group.
"Ultimately, if you want to operate at a high-performance level you need to have tough, hard chats. If guys don't like it, that is up for them to deal with," he said.
"I am a bit of an old school mentality with a new school twist, but I laid down some proper challenges to some senior players to stand up and respond. It was brilliant to see the guys take the message on board.
"If you want to be world number one in the future, you have to compete and beat the best."
South Africa, who won their previous series in West Indies in June, will next take on world Test champions New Zealand in two matches next month.
"We are by no means the finished article," Elgar said. "But I am already thinking about the next series, which is something I need to try and manage and control, because I will burn my brain out.
"There are a lot of positives going into that series, but also a lot of negatives we need to hit on the head."
Australian Associated Press