Excellent catching helped Pakistan restrict South Africa to 159-4 at tea on the opening day of the first Test at the Wanderers yesterday.
A quick-fire 79-run stand for the third wicket between Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla looked to have given the hosts the advantage, but two fine catches dragged the visitors back into the contest.
Kallis, having just reached his 58th Test 50, was caught by Asad Shafiq in the deep while Amla was snapped up in the gully by Azhar Ali for 37.
AB de Villiers was due to resume after the tea interval on a patient 10 not out, along with Faf du Plessis who was on 14.
Resuming on 68-2 after lunch, Kallis and Amla made hay as they flayed the bowling to all parts of the ground with some wonderfully controlled shots.
They were particularly severe on debutant fast bowler Rahat Ali, who had figures of 0-43 from his nine overs on a pitch that was still giving assistance to the seamers.
The introduction of off-spinner Saeed Ajmal failed to produce a wicket as there was precious little turn on offer.
The breakthrough came with the score on 125 as Kallis chased a short ball outside off stump from Umar Gul, but top-edged his pull shot into the deep. Shafiq made huge ground to his left before producing a full-length dive to clasp the ball just above the turf.
Ten runs later and South Africa had lost Amla too after he hung his bat out to an innocuous Younis Khan delivery and the edge was expertly grasped by Azhar in the gully.
Before lunch, Graeme Smith failed to mark his special day with a big score when he was caught behind by Sarfraz Ahmed off Gul for 24. Smith is captaining his 100th test and was also celebrating his 32nd birthday.
Four balls earlier fellow opener Alviro Petersen was caught at third slip by Mohamed Hafeez off the bowling of the excellent Junaid Khan.
South Africa won the toss and chose to bat first on a lively wicket that provided plenty of encouragement to the bowlers.
The Proteas kept the same side that was successful in the Test series against New Zealand last month, resisting the urge to play an all-out pace attack.
Robin Peterson continues in the role of spinner, while Dean Elgar was retained at No. 7 after his century in the host’s last Test.
Pakistan hand debuts to 23-year-old left-handed opener Nasir Jamshed, who will open the batting with Mohammad Hafeez, and fast bowler Ali.
Pakistan are playing their first Test in South Africa for six years, having lost their last series 2-1 in 2007. They have two wins in nine Tests in the country, but none at the Wanderers.
They have also not played a Test for six months after suffering a 1-0 loss in a three-match series in Sri Lanka in July last year.
South Africa are coming off a whitewash of New Zealand in a two-Test home series last month.