South Africa's bid to finish the first Test inside three days was hampered by Pakistan batsmen Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq's stonewall defiance on day three of the first Test at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.

Sunday's first nine overs brought a brisk 68 runs from vice-captain Hashim Amla wicketkeeper-batsman AB de Villiers, affording the latter the 15th century of his career and a prompt declaration from skipper Graeme Smith.

De Villiers and Amla's intent was evident from the onset, with their respective 103 not out and 74 not out the cherries on the top of a formidable second-innings total of 275 for three declared. The visiting bowlers, meanwhile, were pedestrian in their approach - and the fielders' body language was equally flat.

Set a daunting 480 to win the match, a fourth-innings total they have never achieved in their lengthy Test history, Pakistan at least moved to 183 for four at the close of play.

While opener Mohammad Hafeez, the talented Azhar Ali and the veteran Younis Khan were unable to defy the home attack, Shafiq and Misbah did en route to 53 not out and 44 not out respectively.

Both men would have been out earlier, though, had seamer Vernon Philander not coughed up a no-ball to have Shafiq caught behind on 40, and point fielder Robin Peterson not grassed a reasonably straightforward catch when Misbah was on 31.

South Africa's showing was a characteristically professional affair, bar Philander and Peterson's errors. Opener Nasir Jamshed, meanwhile, will rue not reaching greater proportions, having reached a steady 40 before perishing on the pull.

Skittled for a record-low 49 in their first innings, Pakistan will be buoyed by the increasingly flat nature of the pitch, while the arrival of the second new ball will bring Dale Steyn and company plenty of promise in the new week.