While giving credit to Sri Lanka's bowlers, Gibson, Du Plessis and batting coach Dale Benkenstein noted that a lack of footage of relative newcomers such as Vishwa Fernando and Kasun Rajitha had hampered South Africa's preparation.
Sri Lanka had resumed on the third morning on 60 for two, though effectively three down with spinner Lasith Embuldeniya out of the test with a broken thumb, and as has been the case through the series looked to attack the home bowlers.
Sri Lanka join England and Australia as the only teams to win a Test series in South Africa.
For the moment, however they shape their XI, the Proteas have given the now cock-a-hoop Sri Lankans the understandable belief that if they can get two or three quick wickets, more pronounced trouble for the hosts at the crease may not be far away at all.
But Sri Lanka's subsequent 2-0 defeat of South Africa trimmed South Africa's points by five to 105, and pushed New Zealand - at 107 points - up to second place, only behind India, who are well ahead of the pack at 116 points.
That gave the home side a first innings lead of 68, but they were unable to capitalise after being skittled for 128 in their second innings. Whether he has special captaincy skills still remains to be seen but surely he has got some good luck with him, picking his team out of the doldrums they were in.
New Zealand are third in the ICC ODI rankings, which were released on February 20, on 112 points. "They all put their hands up at different times and did a really good job for me".
Earlier, Sri Lanka had defeated South Africa in the first Test at Durban by 1 wicket thanks to an improbable chase engineered by Kusal Perera's brilliant 153 not out.
Speaking during the second Test Benkenstein said: "We came in a little bit complacent". "We have not been at our best - after a pretty disappointing first game as well - against a side that we did not know a lot about".
Karunaratne admitted the enormity of their achievement was just setting in.
South Africa, who gained Test cricket status in 1889, had never lost a home series to an Asian side until now. "It has been a lot of hard work, but the guys did really well and enjoyed it a lot, which is why I think we created history".