Centurion: South Africa completed what captain Graeme Smith described as "a special summer" when they beat Pakistan by an innings and 18 runs on the third day of the third and final Test against Pakistan. It was South Africa's sixth successive win and extended their unbeaten run to 15 matches. Both are records for South Africa while Smith also became the first man to achieve 50 Test wins as a captain.
"We spent a long time on the road," Smith said of successive away series wins in New Zealand, England and Australia, which preceded five wins at home -- two against New Zealand and three against Pakistan.
"We wanted to come back and play a really positive brand of cricket in front of our own crowds."
South Africa stretched their lead at the top of the International Cricket Council Test rankings but Smith said the team did not want to become complacent. "There have been some incredible milestones for myself and the team," said Smith.
"I am just grateful to have achieved something today and to be part of a special group of cricketers who can hopefully go on to achieve a lot more."
Champion fast bowler Dale Steyn took 4 for 80 as Pakistan were bowled out for 235 in their second innings, an improvement on their first innings total of 156.Steyn was also responsible for the run-out of Azhar Ali which sparked a collapse of the Pakistan middle order.
Debutant Kyle Abbott took 2 for 39 to add to the 7 for 39 he took in the first innings and was named Man-of-the-Match. Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq admitted that Pakistan were outclassed. "The South Africans exploited the conditions very well and outplayed us in all three departments," he said.
The teams meet again in a series in the United Arab Emirates later this year, where conditions are expected to be completely different but Misbah said the immediate focus was for Pakistan to improve in two Twenty20 internationals and five one-day internationals. The first T20 international is in Durban on Friday. "It will be good to have some new players for the one-day games," said Misbah.
"When you lose a series it plays on the mind and you can become a bit negative. The new players will come with fresh minds and a positive attitude."
Smith said he was proud of the maturity and professionalism shown by his team in a dead-rubber game. "It is very easy to be soft and not give the full commitment, even subconsciously. We have shown we are hungry and there is a real pride in our performance. The guys understand what it takes to be at this level."
For the only time in the series, the Pakistan lower order showed some resistance and Steyn was frustrated in a final spell of eight overs after tea as the last pair, Rahat Ali and Mohammad Irfan, played and missed or edged the ball out of reach of the fielders. At the other end Abbott was unable to complete a 10-wicket haul on his Test debut. Finally, Smith turned to left-arm spinner Robin Peterson who trapped Rahat leg before wicket with his sixth ball.
South Africa won the first Test in Johannesburg by 211 runs and the second in Cape Town by four wickets. None of the matches went to a fifth day. An early finish seemed in prospect when Pakistan lost four wickets quickly after lunch to be floundering at 114 for 6, but Sarfraz Ahmed (40) and Saeed Ajmal (31) batted enterprisingly and with a modicum of luck to put on 69 for the seventh wicket.