Murali wraps it up for Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka 756 for 5 dec (Jayawardene 374, Sangakkara 287) beat South Africa 169 (Muralitharan 4-41, Fernando 4-48) and 434 (Rudolph 90, Boucher 85, Muralitharan 6-131) by an innings and 153 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out
Sri Lanka's spinners slowly but surely knocked South Africa over on the final day, securing victory by an innings and 153 runs in a Test match that will be remembered for years to come for the brilliant record-breaking partnership of 624 runs between Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, who, with 374, came within striking distance of Brian Lara's record score of 400. In the end there was an air of inevitability about the result, but Sri Lanka were made to work for their win.
When the day began it was critical that Ashwell Prince, who had batted so well on the fourth day, prolong his stay at the crease as much as possible, shielding the lower order from the guile of Muttiah Muralitharan. But it was not to be, as a perfectly floated offbreak teased Prince forward in a defensive shot that only resulted in an edge which was caught superbly by Jayawardene at slip. Prince had made 61, but more significantly had survived 182 balls in the process.
Gibbs, coming in to bat at No.7 because he was off the field for the whole of the third day through injury, did not appear in any obvious discomfort. He didn't try to hit the cover off the ball, as he so often does when in the mood, but attempted instead to put his head down and bat carefully. In the end it was perhaps tentativeness that accounted for his downfall as he patted a loopy full toss from Murali straight back to the bowler.
The fall of the last two recognised batsmen was a big boost for Sri Lanka, but they still had to contend with the doughty resistance of Mark Boucher and Nicky Boje. While Boucher is not exactly the best player of spin in the world, he battled hard to keep away Murali, who has dismissed him ten times in 11 Tests. Boje too would show why he is rated so highly in some quarters, refusing to give his wicket away.
When the first session ended there was still hope for South Africa, but it began to ebb away just after the break as Boucher momentarily lost his concentration and with it his wicket for 85. Boucher tried to punch a Sanath Jayasuriya delivery back past the bowler, towards long-on, but only managed to pop back a return catch, one that Jayasuriya accepted gleefully.
Then Murali made it five for the innings, for merely the 54th time in his career, as Andre Nel played back to a viciously turning offbreak and lost his off stump as the ball ripped through the gap between bat and pad. Boje had a big job on his hands, shielding the last two batsmen, but then neither Dale Steyn nor Makhaya Ntini had the skills needed to counter the ever-present danger of Muralitharan. Steyn jumped down the track to Murali, was beaten all ends up as the ball turned in enough to clip the leg stump. That wicket made it ten in the match for Murali. Ntini was game enough for a few lusty blows, hitting Jayasuriya back over his head for a six and a four off consecutive balls. It took a bowling change, and the return of Lasith Malinga, to wrap things up. A straight ball kept a touch low and breached Ntini's defences, ending South Africa's innings on 434, giving Sri Lanka victory by an innings and 153 runs.
In all, it had been a Test that went exactly according to script for Sri Lanka. For South Africa, though, pretty much nothing went right after Prince won the toss and chose to bat. To be dismissed in just over 50 overs, for a measly 169 on the first day meant that only a minor miracle could save them. But the only thing approaching the miraculous was the partnership between Sangakkara and Jayawardene. They put on 624 with so much panache and composure that it put Sri Lanka in a position from where they could not lose. From then on, with two days and a bit to bowl, it was only a matter of time before South Africa's batsmen, one by one, were shown the door.
Ashwell Prince c Jayawardene b Muralitharan 61 (312 for 5)
Edged an offbreak and was well caught at slip
Herschelle Gibbs c & b Muralitharan 18 (350 for 6)
Patted back a loopy full toss
Mark Boucher c & b Jayasuriya 85 (401 for 7)
Tried to work the ball to the leg side and popped a return catch
Andre Nel b Muralitharan 0 (404 for 8)
Bowled through the gate by a big offbreak
Dale Steyn b Muralitharan (412 for 9)
Came down the track to play a big shot, was beaten and bowled
Makhaya Ntini b Malinga 16 (434 for 10)
Missed a straight one that kept a touch low
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo