South Africa's Vernon Philander (L) celebrates with teammates after crushing victory [AFP] 

Vernon Philander earned praise from captain Graeme Smith after his 10-wicket match haul helped South Africa thrash Sri Lanka by an innings and 81 runs in the first Test on Saturday.

Sri Lanka were overwhelmed in three days at Centurion and rookie seam bowler Philander led the way with figures of 10-102.

The 26-year-old continued his breathtaking introduction to Test cricket by taking five for 49 in Sri Lanka's second innings for his fourth five-wicket haul in his first three matches.

"It's an awesome achievement by Vernon, there was obviously still a bit of life in the pitch, but he deserved his 10-for,"
Smith told a news conference.

"You always hope someone's as successful when they debut as Vernon has been, but he's played cricket for long enough and been through enough ups and downs to know that it won't always be as easy. He knows there will be a few tougher times," Smith said.

Emphatic win

Sri Lanka were bowled out for 180 and 150, in reply to South Africa's 411, with Angelo Mathews first-innings 38 the top score for the side.

"It was over in three days, but we needed to work hard initially," Smith said.

"In the end it was emphatic because we bowled very well, the intensity was great today.

"Each guy really showed their skill and, in my opinion, the bowling today was probably the best standard - skills-wise - of the summer"

South Africa captain Graeme Smith

"Each guy really showed their skill and, in my opinion, the bowling today was probably the best standard - skills-wise - of the summer, even though we bowled Australia out for 47," he said.

Sri Lanka captain Tillakaratne Dilshan said his team's poor display at the crease was to blame for defeat.

"Our batting didn't click, that's where we lost the game," Dilshan said.

"As a batting group, we definitely have to take responsibility. We've been working hard in the nets, but we didn't carry that to the middle.

"It's not easy to beat South Africa, especially in South Africa, but if we had put runs on the board, then we could have
put pressure on them," he said.

Source: Reuters