Kallis steers the Proteas out of trouble notching up his 37th Test century [AFP]

Jacques Kallis's 37th Test century and an unbeaten 120 by AB de Villiers steered South Africa out of trouble to 311-5 at close on the first day of the second Test at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

De Villiers was unbeaten for his 11th hundred while Kallis notched 105, as the duo added 179 runs for the fourth wicket after debutant paceman Tanveer Ahmed shook South Africa with three early wickets.

Ahmed had helped reduce South Africa to 33 for three in the sixth over, finishing the day with figures of four for 67.

Taking control

It was a second hundred in successive Tests for Kallis and his fifth this year alone. After Ahmed had left South Africa tottering, Kallis and De Villiers proved the wicket was playable, scoring at more than 4.5 runs per over. De Villiers and Mark Boucher (26) were at the crease at close.

Pakistan not only surprised everyone with the decision to field on a flat wicket but also to give the 31-year-old Ahmed the opening ball ahead of Mohammad Sami. Ahmed rewarded that faith by sending back South Africa's top three in the space of 29 balls.

Opener Alviro Petersen was the first go, caught in the slips by captain Misbah-ul-Haq off Ahmed's third ball in Test cricket.

Hashim Amla, the Proteas' most in-form batsman who needed just six run to complete 1000 this year alone, was adjudged caught behind when the ball brushed his thigh pad after scoring four. Captain Graeme Smith also was caught behind a few overs later.

The fourth-wicket pair of Kallis and De Villiers steadied the tourists before moving from strength to strength in the session after lunch.

Kallis, who hit his first six on the back foot off the bowling of Ahmed, struck two more straight back over spinner Abdur Rehman's head - a trick De Villiers repeated.

Kallis was eventually out for 105 from 147 balls, with 12 fours and three sixes. He was removed soon after tea when Ahmed returned and extracted enough reverse swing to force Kallis to play on to his stumps.

Kallis praised the middle-order batting.

First day scorecard
South Africa first innings
G Smith c Akmal b Tanvir Ahmed 10
A Petersen c Misbah ul-Haq b Tanvir Ahmed 2
H Amla c Akmal b Tanvir Ahmed 4
J Kallis b Tanvir Ahmed 105
AB de Villiers not out 120
Ashwell Prince c Shafiq b Hafeez 32
M Boucher not out 26
Extras (b-6, lb-1, nb-5) 12
Total (five wickets, 90 overs) 311
Fall of wickets: 1-2 2-6 3-33 4-212 5-268

"We lost early wickets, so the guys batted well to take us to this position and put pressure back on Pakistan," said Kallis, especially praising his partner De Villiers.

The Kallis-De Villiers stand is a new record for the fourth wicket partnership against Pakistan, erasing the previous best of 119, involving Kallis and Amla at Centurion in 2007.

De Villiers added another 56 for the fifth wicket with Ashwell Prince (32).

Pakistan took the second new ball after 82 overs with the South African score 285-5, but De Villiers and Boucher remained firm.

Ahmed said he couldn't sleep last night after being told he would play his first Test.

"I couldn't sleep because I was so happy," said Ahmed.

"I am happy that I gave my team an ideal start and now want to take more wickets on the second day." 

Source: Agencies