South Africa needed two big knocks from Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers to reach 334 for six at stumps on day one of the third Test against Pakistan, after losing regular wickets at Centurion.
Amla fell eight runs short of his century in the afternoon session, while De Villiers ended the day on 98 not out, alongside Vernon Philander's unbeaten 45. These knocks negated good efforts from Pakistan rookie pacemen Rahat Ali and Ehsan Adil, who took three and two scalps respectively.
The Proteas won the toss and chose to bat first at Supersport Park, but did not make the most of their decision initially. Pakistan's pace attack, featuring just two Test caps between three bowlers, did well early on and removed the openers cheaply.
Alviro Petersen looked good, striking consecutive boundaries off Rahat, but the bowler got his own back by trapping him plumb in front for 10, the Proteas score on 13 at the time.
Skipper Graeme Smith never looked comfortable and could only make five runs in his 21 deliveries. before he did what he often does, prodding an angled bat at the ball and sending it to the slips. Younis Khan took a diving cats off debutant Ehsan.
This meant Amla and Faf du Plessis were left to steady the knock, and they did well to up the tempo as the morning progressed. Du Plessis was particularly impressive, striking some beautiful straight drives down the ground.
Saeed Ajmal was introduced shortly before the lunch break, but he didn't seem to trouble the duo initially, with Amla smashing him to the long on ropes to bring up the 50 partnership. Amla recorded his half ton two overs before the interval.
The afternoon session was much more successful for Pakistan, as they removed Du Plessis soon after the restart. The T20 captain was on 29 off 57 balls when he was caught behind of Ehsan's bowling.
This left Amla and De Villiers to forge ahead, trying to negate the absence of the injured Jacques Kallis. The pair put on 79 runs in 18 overs, though Amla looked increasingly edgy as his hundred drew nearer.
The bearded fan-favourite was aiming for his 20th Test century, but could not negate a sharp Rahat delivery in the 47th over, where he found a thin edge and was caught by Sarfraz Ahmed behind the stumps.
The Proteas usually long tail looked suddenly much shorter in Kallis' absence as Dean Elgar failed to add a meaningful score and was out for seven. He was trapped LBW by Rahat, and despite wasting a review, he had to depart.
The evening belonged to the home side, thanks to the 86-run partnership between De Villiers and Philander, while Robin Peterson looked good for his 28, before he was run out via a Mohammad Irfan direct hit.
Once the spinner departed, De Villiers and Philander picked the bowlers apart, exploiting the young attack's lack of experience and fitness to use us valuable new ball shine, going at four runs to the over till stumps.
South Africa: Graeme Smith, Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Kyle Abbott, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Vernon Philander, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Rory Kleinveldt.
Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Farhat, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan, Rahat Ali, Ehsan Adil.