CENTURION, SOUTH AFRICA // Vernon Philander finished with 10 wickets in only his third Test to earn glowing praise from his captain, Graeme Smith, as South Africa's fast bowlers blew away Sri Lanka in an innings victory inside three days at Super Sport Park on Saturday.
Sri Lanka were overwhelmed at Centurion, and the rookie seam bowler Philander, 26, led the way with figures of 10-102.
He continued his breathtaking introduction to Test cricket by taking five for 49 in Sri Lanka's second innings for his fourth five-wicket haul in his first three matches.
"It's an awesome achievement by Vernon," Smith said. "There was obviously still a bit of life in the pitch, but he deserved his 10-for.
"You always hope someone's as successful when they debut as Vernon has been, but he's played cricket for long enough and been through enough ups and downs to know that it won't always be as easy. He knows there will be a few tougher times."
Sri Lanka were bowled out for 180 and 150, in reply to South Africa's 411, with Angelo Mathews first-innings 38 the top score for the side.
"It was over in three days, but we needed to work hard, initially," Smith said. "In the end it was emphatic because we bowled very well, the intensity was great today.
"Each guy really showed their skill and, in my opinion, the bowling today was probably the best standard, skills-wise, of the summer, even though we bowled Australia out for 47."
Sri Lanka have never won a Test in South Africa and have now lost seven of eight matches here.
Philander is happy to be on top of his game.
"Bowling form is like batting form - when you have it you should make it count," he said.
"I have been trying to keep things simple and it is working, so no need to change anything," he added. "I like to hit the in-between lengths, that plays a big part in it."
Tillakaratne Dilshan, the Sri Lanka captain, said his team's poor display at the crease were to blame for their defeat.
"Our batting didn't click, that's where we lost the game," Dilshan said.
"As a batting group, we definitely have to take responsibility. We've been working hard in the nets, but we didn't carry that to the middle.
"It's not easy to beat South Africa, especially in South Africa, but if we had put runs on the board, then we could have put pressure on them."