ABU DHABI // Centuries by AB de Villiers and Jacques Kallis put South Africa back on track after Pakistan's pace bowlers had ripped through their opening batsmen on the first day of the second Test.
South Africa were 311 for five at the close at the Zayed Cricket Stadium with De Villiers not out on 120.
At 33 for three, South Africa had looked to be in trouble but a spirited 179-run partnership between Kallis and De Villiers bailed them out of trouble.
Kallis raced to his quickest Test century, his 37th, before falling to Tanvir Ahmed on 105 just after tea.
"It was hard work this morning but I was pleased with how I was moving," Kallis said. "We have to try and get to 400 and put the pressure back on Pakistan."
Paceman Ahmed, making his Pakistan debut, took four wickets for 67 and confessed that nerves had kept him awake on the night before the game.
"I didn't sleep all night as I was thinking how I would be bowling to Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla," Ahmed, 31, said.
"I am thankful... that I finally made my debut. I never expected such a performance," added Ahmed, the oldest debutant for Pakistan, whose victims included Amla for four runs.
Ahmed was part of the squad that toured England earlier this year but he did not play.
"The time I spent with senior team members over the last few months helped me a lot in my performance," he said.
Captain Misbah ul-Haq put the Proteas in to bat and relied on his pace bowlers to use the moisture and grass on the Abu Dhabi wicket.
Ahmed struck in his first over, sending back Alviro Petersen (2), caught at slip by Ul-Haq. Five balls later, he took the wicket of Amla in a controversial decision as replays showed the ball came off Amla's thigh before being caught at slip.
In the next few overs, he took the wicket of South African captain Graeme Smith (10).
The first Test in Dubai last week ended in a draw.