Cape Town - AB de Villiers faced the equivalent of almost 50 overs and Hashim Amla 40 overs but it was not enough to save the Proteas from a 337-run defeat against India in the final Test match in Delhi on Monday.
India thus take the series 3-0 and with it second place on the ICC Test match rankings. The Proteas remain No 1 by a margin of 4 points as they return home to take on fifth-placed England in another four-match series, starting on December 26.
De Villiers is renowned for his fast scoring but he was well on target to record one of the slowest Test half-centuries ever before he was dismissed for 43 after a vigil of five-and-three-quarter hours, having faced 297 balls and hit only 6 boundaries.
He was one of five victims for off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin who had an innings return of five for 61 in 49.1 overs to finish the series with 31 wickets at an average of a fraction over 11.
It was fitting that he should take the last wicket of the series when he bowled Morne Morkel. He was the obvious choice for man-of-the-series although slow left-armer Ravindra Jadeja would also have had his supporters. He took the key wicket of Amla to open up the vulnerable South African middle-order.
Ajinkya Rahane was the equally obvious choice for man-of-the-match, having become the fifth Indian to score centuries in both innings of a Test match.
De Villiers finished the series with an average of 36 which was twice as good as any South African batsman if one discounts Temba Bavuma, who only played the final Test match. The latter did his cause a great deal of good, batting for almost 20 overs in an attempt to keep India at bay and it seems unlikely that he will be the reserve batsman in the Test squad any longer.
He impressed with his temperament and also looks to be a quick learner.