South African captain Faf du Plessis admitted that tougher challenges lay ahead – but said a record win over Bangladesh had given his team confidence ahead of series against India and Australia later in the season.
Fast bowler Kagiso Rabada led a ruthless bowling performance as South Africa completed an innings and 254 run win midway through the third day of the second Test at Mangaung Oval on Sunday to complete a crushing 2-0 series win.
Rabada took five for 30 as Bangladesh were bowled out for 172, a slight improvement on their first innings of 147 in reply to South Africa’s 573 for four declared.
"We had really good targets that we wanted to achieve in this series and we achieved those hands down," said Du Plessis.
"It gives us a lot of confidence but we appreciate that India and Australia are going to be a lot tougher. Bangladesh possibly didn’t have the firepower that we thought they would have in these conditions."
Du Plessis said big hundreds and important partnerships from the batsmen and a relentless bowling onslaught had been as much as could have been expected from the team. "We appreciate that we’ve still got a lot of work to do to be the finished article but if we do get better we’ll be challenging for that (ICC) number one ranking again."
It was the biggest win in South Africa’s Test history, surpassing the innings and 229 run victory over Sri Lanka in Cape Town in 2000/01.
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim was left with literal and figurative headaches. He took a sickening blow on his batting helmet, in the region of his left temple, early in an innings of 26. He crumpled to the ground and needed prolonged treatment on the field before resuming his innings.
"I felt pain a lot," he said of an incident that was reminiscent of him being stretchered off against New Zealand in Wellington in January. But unlike Wellington he resumed his innings.
"I took medication and I tried to be there for my team," he said. "After I had a chat with our physio in the middle, I told him I will go off if I can’t bat after 10 or 15 minutes. I wasn’t 100 percent but I tried my level best to survive till lunch."
Dismissed on the stroke of lunch 50 minutes later he was taken to hospital but returned to the ground for the after-match ceremonies after getting a medical all-clear. "I am okay at the moment. If I feel bad again, I can go back to the hospital," he said.
A longer-lasting headache may be the dismal performance of his team and his own lacklustre captaincy. In both Tests he sent South Africa in to bat in good batting conditions and then seemed powerless to alter the course of events as the home side piled on the runs.
But Rahim indicated he did not intend to give up the captaincy. "It is up to the board," he said. "They gave me the honour and opportunity. They gave me the respect to lead the side. I tried my level best with honesty. If they are not satisfied they will take their decision."
Rabada and Duanne Olivier were aggressive from the start of play, when Bangladesh resumed on seven for no wicket. They sent down numerous short-pitched deliveries and three batsmen were struck on their batting helmets, including Rahim.
Mominul Haque was hit by a bouncer from Rabada two balls before hooking the same bowler to be caught at deep square leg, while Mahmudullah was hit by Olivier before he had scored. He went on to make top score of 43.
Rabada, 22, who had match figures of ten for 63, became the youngest of 16 South Africans to take 100 Test wickets. He was playing in his 22nd Test. Only Vernon Philander (19) and Dale Steyn (20) of his compatriots have achieved the feat in fewer matches.
It was his third 10-wicket haul in Tests. He took his tally of Test wickets in 2017 to 54, the most by any bowler this year.