It was the Proteas third win on the island since 2000 and the win did plenty of justice for them as they now need to win the second test match that gets underway on Thursday in order to reclaim pole position from Australia.
But it was seamer Dale Steyn who stole the show by headline grabbing figures of 9-99. Steyn’s figures, the best by a quick at the Galle ground, helped the visitors bowl Sri Lanka out twice despite a wicket which offered little help.
The hosts needed to make another 260 runs on the final day with nine wickets in hand to pull off a come from behind win. But they lost their remaining wickets for just 106 to go down tamely in the end.
South Africa made 455-9 declared in their first innings before bowling out the home side for 292. In their second knock, South Africa declared at 206-6 to set Sri Lanka a target of 370.