- The Proteas' victory in the first Test against Sri Lanka might've showcased their batting order rediscovering its mojo, but their two rookies played starring roles.
- Both Wiaan Mulder and Lutho Sipamla were the instigators of South Africa's turnaround after a poor start.
- Skipper Quinton de Kock hopes Mulder's all-round form continues, while he praised Sipamla's character to finish with fine figures on debut.
While an experienced batting order finally flexing its muscles again was the most obvious positive aspect to come out of the Proteas' encouraging victory over Sri Lanka in the first Test in Centurion, it was undeniably two rookies who laid the platform.
National skipper Quinton de Kock on Tuesday praised the efforts of the 22-year-old duo of Wiaan Mulder and Lutho Sipamla, who shrugged off nerves and a lack of experience to spearhead their side's turnaround from an underwhelming start.
Picked as the designated all-rounder for the match - won by an emphatic margin of an innings and 45 runs - Mulder went a long way towards fulfilling his mandate.
He was visibly disappointed at being dismissed for 36 during South Africa's charge to an imposing total of 621 in their only innings, especially given that batting is his forte.
But it was the Highveld Lions star's newfound endurance as a seamer that stood out.
After injuries blighted his initial burst onto the cricketing scene back in 2017, Mulder has visibly become stronger in sending down a combined 32 overs for match figures of 5/108.
"Wiaan's contribution in this game speaks for itself," De Kock said in the aftermath of the Proteas' win.
"Any team with an all-rounder that can add value with the ball and bat will find such players are key. Wiaan really showed what he was about.
"He's a youngster, he came out and bowled with maturity and also batted with intent. It's good to see him coming through and I hope he carries on with that form."
Meanwhile, Mulder's franchise team-mate Sipamla underwent a dramatic and quick transformation as proceedings played out.
The lanky seamer looked visibly nervy when he took the new ball in the first innings, leaking 36 runs in his first four overs and 56 in nine before showing immense character to finish with 4/76.
Eye-catchingly, Sipamla didn't try to showcase a vast array of skills to turn things around for him.
Instead, he kept things simple, focused on a fuller length and was duly rewarded.
"Lutho came to us and we discussed his difficult start at the end of the first day. It wasn't anything big, it just came down to being on debut and having some nerves," said De Kock.
"He came back nicely. How he bowled eventually was how he was bowling in the nets. We knew what he could do and he came back brilliantly.
"Lutho showed some real character. It's tough being the opening bowler on your debut, but it was great to see his fight."
Sipamla proved that was no fluke by taking 2/24 in Sri Lanka's second innings.