It was hard to work out which captain was more stunned after South Africa's incredible win over Australia in Durban.

But it was left to Faf du Plessis to sum up a result that looked highly unlikely when Australia ran up 371 batting first at Kingsmead, and even more so when a middle order stumble left South Africa needing a miracle - duly provided by a thumping innings from David Miller.

"To win a game like that when you're supposed to lose, when you're down and out then you have someone put their hand up and take you across the line, it's as good as it gets," du Plessis said. "I don't have any words to be honest.

"I think there's a lot of people if you asked them 3-0 to South Africa against the No. 1 team in the world, they would have possibly laughed. It just shows which direction we're going as a team at the moment, we've played some really good cricket in all formats and I'm really excited about what lies ahead.

"I'm just out of words, I'm so happy at the moment because I never would have thought 3-0 would have been possible against this Australian side."

Steven Smith bore the thousand-yard stare of a captain who has now lost seven of his past nine matches in charge in all formats. All he had asked for, from his batsmen in particular, had been achieved, still he ended the night in defeat.

"I wanted the top four to get the bulk of the runs, someone to go on and get a hundred, we had two blokes do that," Smith said. "It's a very tough loss. Today was our quarter-final to keep us in the series and when you get to halfway and you've got 370 on the board, you don't lose too many games with 370 on the board.

"For them [bowlers], it's about trying to bowl their best ball as much as possible...we just haven't been able to do it as well as we would have liked.

"It hasn't gone to plan so far, that's for sure. I'm sure the guys will be able to take a lot out of playing against these South African batters. There's some quality batters in their line-up and you've got to learn to play against the best if you want to play international cricket."

'Was trying not to show any nerves' - Miller
'Was trying not to show any nerves' - Miller

Much has been written and said about Australia's understrength bowling line-up on tour, which again copped heavy punishment throughout. But du Plessis was pointed in stating that could not take anything away from his team's achievement.

"I think as an international team you cannot use that as an excuse, never," he said. "I've been part of a South African team when we had no Dale Steyn and no Vernon Philander in our Test team, and you can't use that as an excuse.

"You have to find a way as a team to try and compete against the best teams in the world and we didn't in that series against England and it would have been a lot different with the two of them playing.

"But you can't use that as an excuse, you have to find a way as a squad to try and compete. There's a little bit of inexperience there but they would be the first guys not to blame their weakened attack. They're the No. 1 team in the world and they know they still have to put up a good fight against us."