Dale Steyn
South Africa's Dale Steyn celebrates after taking the wicket of Sri Lanka's Kaushal Silva.Reuters

South Africa speedster Dale Steyn has credited former Proteas pacer Alan Donald for his match-winning performance in the first Test against Sri Lanka at the Galle International Stadium on Sunday.

Steyn finished with nine wickets in the match, including a fifer in the first innings, and insisted that watching the bowling videos of Donald ahead of the series opener helped him.

"I actually watched a couple of his videos before I bowled in this Test," said Steyn. "He's always telling us how good we are and what legends we are - it must take a bit out of him to do that because he was a legend himself.

"For him to say those things to youngsters like us, I really appreciate that. The wickets are for the whole country but I like to say thank you to him."

Steyn bowled with a lot of aggression in the second innings and dismissed Upul Tharanga, Kaushal Silva, Lahiru Thirimanne and Dilruwan Perera. He and Morne Morkel (29 for four) bundled the Lankans for just 216 and steered the hosts to their third Test ever win in the island nation.

The Proteas seamer produced one of the finest performances on the venue, which was earlier expected to give assistance to slow bowlers.

"It's not the fastest wicket in the world, that's for sure, but if you can get pace through the air with a bit of aggression and land the ball in the right areas then you always stand a chance of taking a wicket," Steyn insisted.

"If you leave it then you can be bowled with a bit of reverse swing, or even with the wind," he added. "Landing the ball in that area means that lbw, bowled or caught behind are always a factor."

The islanders were firmly poised at 110 for one in chase of 370, with Kumar Sangakkara and Silva on the crease. But the Proteas dismissed Silva, Mahela Jayawardene and Sangakkara in the first session of the final day to open gates for a famous win.

None of the Lankan batsmen managed to put up a fight against the determined African attack, as the touring party sealed a 156-run win.

"At 110 for one, I thought let's just get one wicket here," Amla said. "Batting last and chasing 370 is a really tall task for any team. We picked up a few early wickets, which made it a lot easier to maintain the pressure. Once you got one, two, three wickets, you kind of see how the game is unfolding."

The visitors have now taken a 1-0 lead in the two-match Test series, after winning the ODI series 2-1. The second match will start at the Sinhalese Sports Club Ground on 24 July.