South African debutant Dane Piedt took match figures of 8-152 as the Proteas defeated Zimbabwe by nine wickets in Harare.
The spinner claimed 4-62 in the second innings as the hosts were all out for 181 on day four, before South Africa clinched the one-match series by chasing the meagre total of 44 for the loss of just Dean Elgar.
The large margin of victory goes to show the distinct difference in class between the sides ranked first and ninth respectively in the ICC Test Rankings.
Zimbabwe began the penultimate day of the Test on 28-1, trailing their opponents by 113 runs. Progress in the morning session moved along quite nicely for the home side as night watchman Donald Tiripano survived nearly an hour and a half for his five.
The bowler supported Vusimuzi Sibanda (45) who set about reducing the first innings deficit. And the opening batsman received further backing from Mark Vermeulen when Tiripano became Piedt’s first victim of the day.
Vermeulen – playing in his first Test match in more than a decade – added 21 in a 40-run partnership with Sibanda to take Zimbabwe to 98-2, still another 43 shy of South Africa.
But the loss of eight wickets for less than 100 runs was to provide the tourists with a far easier victory than it first seemed.
Both Sibanda and Vermeulen fell without the scoreboard surpassing 98. The returning Vermeulen was trapped lbw by Dale Steyn, before Piedt then caught and bowled Sibanda.
The fall of those wickets erected a revolving door at the crease, which the Zimbabwean batsmen passed through with haste.
Even captain Brendan Taylor (5) could do little to stem the flow of wickets. The skipper was caught by Elgar off the bowling of Piedt before Morne Morkel got involved in
The seamer removed Regis Chakabva (15) and Sean Williams (3) in quick succession as he took 3-15 and South Africa closed in on victory.
Richmond Mutumbami did make a quickfire stand of 43 from 69 balls – including six fours – but the number one Test team in the world also had the best bowler on the planet to call upon.
Steyn displaced the wicketkeeper when he edged to Quinton de Kock to make it 178-8.
Another caught and bowled effort from Piedt saw off Nyumbu (13) and then Steyn bowled Tinashe Panyangara for 2 to take his figures to 3-38 and end Zimbabwe’s innings on 181
Chasing just 41 for victory, the result never looked in doubt when Elgar (21) and Alviro Petersen (17*) arrived at the crease. In fact, less than 11 overs were required to knock off the winning runs.
Elgar top-scored but was bowled by Tendai Chatara before Faf du Plessis (5*) came to the middle to score the winning runs.
Being the only Test match contested between the sides this year, South Africa won the series. The Proteas will meet Zimbabwe once again in the upcoming triangular one-day series that also involves Australia.