Karachi: South African skipper Graeme Smith said his side's successful tour of Pakistan was a huge step forward and will help them face up to world champions Australia in the coming season.
The Proteas left here for home on Tuesday afternoon with a 1-0 win in the two-Test series and a come-from-behind 3-2 victory in the five-match one-day series.
"It is a fabulous achievement for us and a huge stepping stone," Smith told reporters after his team pulled off a stunning 14-run win in the fifth and final match at Lahore on Monday.
"After the World Cup (in the West Indies in April this year) people questioned our ability to play in these conditions," said Smith, whose Test series win was their first in the subcontinent since 2000.
"This series win is a big step forward for South African cricket and a big launching pad for the coming season.
"It is always a big challenge touring Pakistan for any team because of the lot of stuff that comes with it. Coming and playing in conditions you are not accustomed to is tough."
South Africa host New Zealand next month and then West Indies. They tour England in July before facing Australia in the later part of the next year.
Smith said there was still room for improvement.
"They are a few tactical things we need to look at but I don't remember the last time we won two trophies in the sub-continent," said Smith whose team won a one-day series 3-2 but lost two-Test series 1-0 in Pakistan four years ago.
"We've started the season well and cleared the first major hurdle so taking this confidence into the rest of our season is very important."
Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik rued the missed chances in the last match.
"We failed to finish the match. We wanted to win the series which could have been a real morale booster before the India tour," said Malik, whose team lost the last six wickets for 20 runs off 36 deliveries after being set 234 to win.
"It is up to the team to take this defeat as a jolt and get more encouraged for the India tour."
Pakistan are due to fly to India on Thursday to play five one-day internationals and three Tests. The first one-day is scheduled for Guwahati on Monday.