Kallis ton puts Proteas on top

Jacques Kallis’ 24th Test hundred – a typical lesson in concentration and perseverance – put South Africa in firm control at the close of the opening day of the first Test in Karachi. A disappointing Pakistan bowling attack, missing Shoaib Akhtar, toiled with sultry skies and an unresponsive pitch to leave the tourists a comfortable 294-3 at the close, with Kallis unbeaten on 118.

With the pitch expected to deteriorate as the match progresses, Graeme Smith had little hesitation in deciding to bat first, particularly with the late loss of Morne Morkel to a foot injury. A Shoaib-less Pakistan then searched in vain for options in the first session after Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul – their only frontline seamers – began waywardly. Smith and Herschelle Gibbs were quickly into their stride, hitting Gul out of the attack early on and then compiling runs at ease against the slower bowlers, including debutant left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman. When the breakthrough finally came, it was through the sixth bowler Shoaib Malik turned to: Smith fell eight shy of a half-century, trapped leg before by Mohammad Hafeez.

After lunch, Gibbs slashed loosely to gully off Gul for 54, but any hope of a shift in momentum towards Pakistan was quashed by Kallis and Hashim Amla, who combined together in a decisive 170-run stand. Neither was particularly fluent, but the slow surface and spin-heavy attack hardly lent itself to continual strokeplay. Instead, Kallis marshalled the partnership superbly, releasing pressure whenever Amla became mired against the spinners. Kallis survived two dropped catches – on 36 and 61 – but still brought up his hundred from 147 balls. Moments later, the new ball taken, Amla lost his off-stump to Mohammad Asif’s offcutter after a quiet 71 and Pakistan saw the chance to nip another couple out before the close of play. Kallis and Ashwell Prince, the newly-appointed vice-captain, saw South Africa through to the close without further blemishes and the Proteas will be hoping to have posted a sizeable total come the same time tomorrow.

South Africa 294-3 (90 overs)
Herschelle Gibbs 54, Graeme Smith 42, Hashim Amla 71, Jacques Kallis 118*


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