Johannesburg – It was the perfect Test match for the Proteas.
Two hundreds with the bat were followed by 20 wickets for just 308 runs with the ball as South Africa bossed Sri Lanka for three straight days.
On Saturday, the Proteas took no less than 16 wickets to win the match and claim a 3-0 series whitewash.
The Sri Lankan batting line-up may have been all at sea on this green Wanderers wicket, but the Proteas still had to put the ball in the right areas.
Their all-pace attack of Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Wayne Parnell and debutant Duanne Olivier did just that.
The difference in quality between the sides was evident all series and South Africa have now convincingly won all three series (New Zealand, Australia and Sri Lanka) under Faf du Plessis’s captaincy.
From the outside looking in, there appears to be little wrong with this side, but Du Plessis said after play on Saturday that there is still a lot to work on.
“We’ve had pretty clear goals. We’ve been very goal-driven the last six months,” he said.
“We want to try and get back to No 1. It’s going to take us a little bit of time with India playing so much, but we want to improve with every challenge.
“For me, we’re not the finished article yet. We’ve definitely got a long way to go.
“Consistency with batting is something we want to get better at. We’re batting at 70%, although it’s tough conditions, but I feel like we’ve got about 30% left in the tank with the batting.”
One aspect that had pleased the skipper throughout the Sri Lankan series was the consistency in all three disciplines.
“I won’t say it’s the best (series I’ve played in), but probably the most consistent,” Du Plessis said.
“That’s something we asked for right at the start of the series.
“We expected in these conditions to be on top of Sri Lanka at times. I reckon out of all the days of Test cricket we’ve been on top for 95% of the time.
“I’m extremely pleased with that. The bowling right through the series was consistent, the batting was consistent and also the fielding.”
With match figures of 5/57, it was a highly successful debut for Olivier while Parnell (6/89) also gave a fantastic account of himself in his return to Test cricket.
Those are encouraging signs as South Africa prepare for March’s three-Test series in New Zealand without Kyle Abbott.
“It’s great that they got wickets,” Du Plessis said of Olivier and Parnell.
“We know with KG and with Vern that they are world class bowlers and delivering every game. They’re consistent and relentless.
“So obviously now the plan is try and make sure that our third seamer can get to that level as quick as possible.
“Both of them will say that they possibly leaked a little bit too much runs this game, but they got wickets. For me, you have to make sure you do one or both and luckily they got wickets.
“Duanne had some nice pace and aggression which is always important in a Test bowling attack and Parnell offered some nice pace as well.”