Steyn claimed four of the last six wickets on offer to finish the innings with 5-52 and a remarkable match analysis of 11-60, his fifth ten-wicket haul in Test matches.
De Villiers, too, added five victims to his six from the first innings to equal Englishman Jack Russell’s haul of 11 catches in a Test.
The tourists resumed on 183-4 after a stubborn century stand for the fifth wicket had frustrated the Proteas for the entire evening session on Sunday, but the second new ball was available five overs into the fourth morning and the home side’s attack believed it would be decisive. It was.
Asad Shafiq’s sturdy resistance, 56 from 168 balls, came to an end with a low catch to Jacques Kallis at second slip and Steyn struck again eight balls later to send Misbah-ul-Haq on his way for 64 from 167 deliveries.
Wicket Keeper Sarfraz Ahmed (6) was bowled off an inside edge by Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel provided a tenth catch for De Villiers via the edge of Saeed Ajmal’s bat.
Captain Graeme Smith admitted he “couldn’t take the risk” of trying to rest Steyn as he sought his tenth wicket and the great paceman was eventually rewarded in his ninth consecutive over when Umar Gul (23) provided the faintest of edges, inevitably to De Villiers.
With ten wickets safely in the bag Steyn decided to finish the job and take a tenth consecutive over from the Golf Course end – Junaid Khan was trapped lbw and Pakistan were dismissed for 268.
De Villiers became the first man to claim ten catches and score a century in Test cricket but it was Steyn’s match haul and, in particular, the extraordinary analysis of 6-8 in the first innings which did most to decide the course of the contest and he was named Sunfoil Man of the match.
“It was just one of those Test matches where things go right for you,” Steyn said afterwards. “Sometimes you beat the bat all day, other days you get a few edges. But I bowled pretty well, obviously!” admitted Steyn.
De Villiers, too, downplayed his achievement: “I had to work a bit for one of the catches but the others pretty much came straight to me. You’re going to get a lot of chances with this bowling attack. You still have to catch them, though!”
Asked whether his performance might have caused a few psychological problems for the Pakistan batting line-up going into the second Test at Sahara Park Newlands next week, Steyn replied: “I certainly hope so.”