Pakistan in charge despite Amla ton

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Pakistan were firmly in control at stumps on day one of the first Test against South Africa in Abu Dhabi, restricting the visitors to 245 for eight despite an unbeaten century from Hashim Amla.

Pakistan were firmly in control at stumps on day one of the first Test against South Africa in Abu Dhabi, restricting the visitors to 245 for eight despite an unbeaten century from Hashim Amla.

Amla was called into service early in the day after the loss of three early wickets put the Proteas in trouble, before stands with AB de Villiers and JP Duminy steadied the ship somewhat, but late wickets gave the day to the hosts.

Captain Graeme Smith's decision to bat first after winning the toss endured a wobbly start, as South Africa slipped to 66 for three at lunch. Conditions at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, unexpectedly so, proved helpful to the Pakistan bowlers.

Opener Alviro Petersen was guilty of poor timing, gifting a catch to short-leg fielder Shan Masood. Television replays soon revealed doubt over a potential no-ball from the lanky Mohammad Irfan and Masood's momentary juggle null and void.

Smith's precarious return from ankle surgery continued, as Irfan capitalised on a slew of streaky shot selections to have the left-hander caught behind. While the dismissal required a referral, there was ultimately no questioning the edge.

All-rounder Jacques Kallis, too, did not last long – instead feathering an inside edge to wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal in the wake of some sharp seam movement from left-armer Junaid Khan.

This left the visitors on 43 for three and in dire need of a recovery stand. This came in the form of the always-reliable Amla, assisted by De Villiers, as the pair put on 61 over the course of the next 24 overs.

It was slow going, but necessary, as De Villiers' typical shot-making was tempered in favour of the team's needs. He slowly made his way to 19 off 76 balls, before his good guy image turned villainous.

Debutant Zulfiqur Babar struck the ODI skipper on the pads and a huge appeal followed, with all players bar Younis Khan and Akmal paying attention to the appeal. While De Villiers was busy paying attention to that commotion, he did not notice his foot slipping out of his crease.

He was standing in the lunging position when Younis flicked the ball to Akmal, who cheekily whipped off the bails and appealed for the run out. De Villiers looked bewildered as the call went upstairs, and Ian Gould, the third umpire, ruled that his foot was not behind the line.

Thus ended that partnership, and brought Duminy to the middle to join Amla. This pairing was more successful, and they added 95 runs at a much quicker pace. Duminy hit the first six of the match on his way to 57.

Duminy became on of Babar's three victims when he tried one of many sweeps shots, but this time he could not keep it down and it looped to Asad Shafiq at short fine leg. Faf du Plessis could only make one run before he too fell to the same bowler and fielder.

Robin Peterson and Vernon Philander also departed in the evening session as Pakistan continued to dominate, with Babar and Saeed Ajmal removing those batsmen and exposing a surprising weakness against spin from the South Africans.

Amla's 20th Test century was still on the go by the time stumps arrived, as Dale Steyn batted from the other end and even hit a six of his own. The fast bowler was on 13 off 23 balls at the close.

<b>Pakistan:</b> Shan Masood, Khurram Manzoor, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Asad Shafiq, Adnan Akmal, Saeed Ajmal, Zulfiqar Babar, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan.

<b>South Africa:</b> Graeme Smith, Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Robin Peterson, Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn.

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