Theunis de Bruyn's gutsy century went in vain as Sri Lanka completed a 2-0 series sweep after Rangana Herath spun the hosts to a comprehensive victory against South Africa in the second and final Test on Monday.
The 199-run win, which came with more than a day to spare, was due to Sri Lanka's tireless spin trio of Herath, Akila Dananjaya and Dilruwan Perera who together claimed all 20 South African wickets.
Such was their dominance that home captain Suranga Lakmal, lone paceman in their attack, did not bowl in the first innings and sent down only two overs in the second before withdrawing himself and watching his spinners run riot against the leaden-footed South Africans.
Resuming on 139-5 with a comprehensive defeat looming over them, South Africa appeared to have suddenly discovered a stomach for fight which was conspicuously absent in the series.
De Bruyn and Temba Bavuma proved during their 123-run stand that Sri Lanka's rampaging spinners could be tackled with decisive footwork and proper application.
De Bruyn registered the first fifty by a South African in the series, which he eventually converted into his maiden Test hundred, and soon there was another as Bavuma followed suit.
Thanks to their dogged defiance, South Africa had their first century stand in the series and they also breached the elusive 200 run-mark.
Both the batsmen generously employed the sweep shot to negate the turning ball but just when it looked like Sri Lanka would endure a rare wicketless session, Herath struck in successive overs to expose the South African tail.
The 40-year-old left-arm spinner drew Bavuma on the front-foot to edge a sharply turning delivery to Niroshan Dickwella behind the stumps. Bavuma hit four boundaries in his gutsy 63.
In his next over, Herath trapped Quinton de Kock leg before and struck the biggest blow when he uprooted De Bruyn's off-stump after the batsman shoulder-armed to an arm ball. De Bruyn's patient knock included 12 boundaries.
Dale Steyn was the last batsman to fall, holing out to Danushka Gunathilaka.