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Brilliant Amla saves Proteas
An unbeaten century from Hashim Amla saved South Africa from a disastrous opening day in the first Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.
The 30-year-old's knock of 118 in a total of 245 for eight was the stand-out performance on a day when the Proteas failed to make the most of winning the toss.
Amla, currently ranked the best Test batsman in the world, began fighting a rearguard action as early as the third over and remained resilient throughout with JP Duminy (57), in his first Test innings in over a year, the only other batsman to score more than 19.
The pair shared a fifth-wicket stand of 95 to change South Africa's fortunes after they had slipped to 104 for four.
Amla faced 250 deliveries, having been in the middle for all but 17 balls of 90 overs bowled in the day, and struck 13 boundaries, bringing up his 20th Test century after tea off 201 balls.
Duminy was more aggressive, hitting a six and six fours in 94 balls, but eventually fell in the final session to give Zulfiqar Babar a first wicket on his Test debut.
The slow left-armer went on to claim two further victims, Faf du Plessis and Robin Peterson falling in quick succession, but neither he nor Pakistan's best bowler Mohammad Irfan could dislodge Amla.
Duminy went after sweeping high to Asad Shafiq, Du Plessis was caught at gully and Peterson bowled through the gate as South Africa slipped from 199 for four to 217 for seven.
Vernon Philander fell late in the day, pinned lbw by Saeed Ajmal having unsuccessfully asked for the decision to be reviewed by the third umpire, leaving Dale Steyn (13no) to accompany Amla to the close.
Having found themselves 43 for three in the morning session South Africa will have been relatively happy with how they finished the day.
Irfan removed Alviro Petersen in the third over when he dug one in and the extra bounce took the right-hander by surprise, fending off to close-in fielder Shan Masood who claimed the catch at the second attempt.
South Africa captain Graeme Smith followed in the seventh over after Pakistan's claims for a catch behind had initially been turned down.
A review was called for and English third umpire Ian Gould adjudged the left-hander had edged to Adnan Akmal, with television replays suggesting there had been a sound as the ball passed the outside edge.
Jacques Kallis made just five before he followed in similar fashion driving at Junaid Khan.
AB de Villiers and Amla put on 61 for the fourth wicket either side of lunch before the former was dismissed somewhat controversially.
De Villiers defended a delivery from Babar down to first slip via an inside-edge off his pad but when Younis Khan tossed the ball back to the wicketkeeper he whipped off the bails after spotting the batsman appeared not to have left his back foot in the crease.
After several replays Gould ruled De Villiers had not managed to get back behind the line and he was given run out for 19, which led to South Africa's best spell in the game as Amla and Duminy combined.