Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar admitted he thought his career was over when banned for taking drugs last year.
I thought it would take me the whole Test match to get back into it
The paceman, who was allowed to return after the ban was lifted, celebrated by taking 4-36 as his team skittled South Africa for 124 in the second Test.
"It was very tough for me. It has been the story of my life, being in controversies," Shoaib said.
"If you asked me a few months ago I wouldn't have had an answer that I would play cricket ever again."
The 31-year-old praised his fellow bowlers after the tourists ended the opening day on 135-6.
Leg-spinner Danish Kaneria took three wickets and seamer Mohammad Asif two.
"We worked in partnerships and every bowling spell brought a wicket," Shoaib added.
Pakistan would have been in a stronger position but lost two wickets in successive overs late in the day.
Makhaya Ntini took four of the six to fall on a remarkable day even though the pitch was essentially blameless.
"We're right back in it," said South Africa coach Mickey Arthur, who admitted his team's batting had been poor on "a fantastic wicket".