Dominant Proteas complete series whitewash
South Africa beat Pakistan by an innings and 18 runs for a 3-0 series whitewash, with the world's top-ranked team ending its test season in utterly dominant form and now targeting a "dynasty" of success, according to captain Graeme Smith.
The Proteas bowled out the tourists for 235 in their second innings late on the third day of the final test. South Africa made 409 batting first at Supersport Park and then blasted Pakistan out for 156 in its first innings and eventually won a sixth straight test to seal a second consecutive whitewash on home soil.
Debutant seam bowler Kyle Abbott took 7-29 in the first innings and nine wickets in all in his first test as South Africa powered to victory, even without injured allrounder Jacques Kallis and fast bowler Morne Morkel.
South Africa has also won six test series in a row, last losing a series in March 2009. It is unbeaten in 12 series, and strongly underlined its top ranking in its final test of the 2012-13 season, having claimed the No. 1 position with an away win in England last year and defended it with a series victory in Australia.
South Africa has lost just once in its last 23 test series dating back to January 2007, but its most recent results have moved the team clear of its nearest challengers at the top.
"It's the best team I've played in as a South African cricketer," captain Graeme Smith said. "We've got all our bases covered. That doesn't mean that won't be challenges ahead for this team, but from my perspective, it's the best team I've been a part of."
The next challenge is a trip to the United Arab Emirates to play Pakistan again - this time in Pakistan's adopted home.
Having reached 100 tests as his country's captain during the series - the first skipper to do that - Smith also made history as the first test captain to secure 50 test wins with the innings victory at Centurion, adding a personal highlight to a season where the Proteas won in England and Australia and swept successive series against New Zealand and Pakistan back home.
"It was a special summer," said Smith, who has now been in charge of the Proteas for a decade.
Dale Steyn took 4-80 in the Pakistan second innings and was backed up by Abbott (2-39) and Rory Kleinveldt (2-33), ensuring the South Africans didn't have to bat again as they overpowered the No. 4-ranked Pakistan.
"When a No 1 team is playing in their home conditions, everything is going their way," Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq said. "They're (South Africa) too good in these kinds of conditions."
Abbott gave a glimpse of South Africa's bowling future, while Steyn and strike partner Philander pressed home their present dominance. Wicketkeeper-batsman AB de Villiers made 121 to anchor the home team's first inning score, and Hashim Amla had 92. South Africa only needed to bat once and won a test by an innings for the third time in its last five matches. The other victories were by 211 runs and by four wickets.
"If there was an ideal situation to come into, this would be it," Abbott said. "No. 1 team and a whitewash over both teams that have toured South Africa this summer."
The Proteas beat New Zealand 2-0 last month - with both victories by an innings - and also won tests against the Pakistanis in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Half-century partnerships between Azhar Ali and Imran Farhat - who top scored with 43 - and then Sarfraz Ahmed and Saeed Ajmal had temporarily held Pakistan together on the third day at Supersport Park after South Africa sensed another quick-fire win when Steyn removed Mohammad Hafeez first ball of the innings the night before.
But Steyn broke both Pakistan's significant stands on Sunday, first with the run out of Ali and then with an lbw decision against Ajmal, and South Africa swiftly moved on to an innings win inside three days.
Left-arm spinner Robin Peterson claimed the last wicket, Rahat Ali lbw for 22, but it was South Africa's potent pace attack of Steyn, Philander and - earlier in the series - Morkel that decided this contest and has been a constantly key factor in creating South Africa's best team under Smith.
After he was asked what there was left to focus on in his career, Smith said: "Just winning. It's as simple as that."