Dubai: South African skipper Graeme Smith showed the way through an elegant century. Three of his batsmen too followed him with half centuries as South Africa posted a commanding 311 for 3.
It was a batsman dominated first day at the Dubai Sports City’s international cricket Stadium which became the world’s 102nd Test venue.
Smith earned the honour of becoming the first batsman to hit a Test century at this stadium and emerged as most prolific run getter and century maker among the world’s Test captains. He has scored 6664 runs as captain, surpassing Alan Border’s record of 6623 runs and hit his 20th century as captain surpassing Ricky Ponting’s record of 19 centuries.
His knock of 100 off 152 balls contained eight well struck boundaries, Alviro Petersen hit 67 runs while Hashim Amla cracked 80 runs and Jacques Kallis remained unbeaten with 53 runs.
Smith, after wining the toss provided a brilliant start along with opener Petersen. They put on 153 runs in 41.1 overs on a partly cloudy day.
Petersen earned the honour of hitting the first boundary of the Test match when he cut Umar Gul with perfection. Gul made Petersen nick the very next ball to debutant wicket keeper Adnan Akmal. To the surprise of everyone umpire Daryl Harper turned down the appeal. Petersen had only scored nine runs then and he raced to his second Test half century. He put on 101 runs with his skipper s before lunch.
Smith picked the gaps well, timing his shots with elegance. Pakistan bowlers finally got the breakthrough in the 42nd over when Petersen, going for a pull, was brilliantly caught by a leaping Younis Khan at mid wicket for 67 runs. His 118-ball innings contained nine boundaries.
Hashim Amla, who joined Smith, began by hitting two boundaries off Wahab Riaz.
Smith reached his 22nd Test century but fell in the very next over to Riaz while trying to pull over deep backward square leg and got caught by Taufeeq Umar. He had added another 37 runs in 11 overs with Amla for the second wicket.
Smith’s century placed him on level with Gary Kirsten and Neil Harvey for the most centuries by a left hander away from home and in neutral Tests. Brian Lara leads the table with 17 centuries and Alan Border is second with 14 hundreds.
Jacques Kallis, the hero of their fifth and final One-day match, who joined Amla strengthened South Africa’s position. They both batted comfortably picking only the lose balls to hit. The wicket did not provide much turn to the spinners as Amla reached his 17 Test half century.
Gul did beat the batsmen many times, moving the deliveries effectively but was not lucky. South African batsmen, who had realised that runs are coming easily, refused to even attempt any risky shots. Kallis reached his 54th Test half century. They put on 117 runs for the third wicket before Riaz got Amla caught behind.
Earlier, Pakistan was dealt a big blow when their star batsman Mohammad Yousuf was declared unfit due to a groin injury. South Africa, hoping that the wicket may turn, has included two spinners in Johan Botha and Paul Harris.