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Graeme Smith sweeps the ball fine off the bowling of Abdur Rehman during the first day's play in Dubai.
Graeme Smith sweeps the ball fine off the bowling of Abdur Rehman during the first day's play in Dubai.

South Africa make Pakistan toil in Dubai

South Africa thrashed a hapless bowling attack by Pakistan to take the driver's seat on the opening day of the first Test at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

South Africa thrashed a hapless bowling attack by Pakistan to take the driver's seat on the opening day of the first Test at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

Winning the toss, the Proteas ended the day at 311 for the loss of three wickets with captain Graeme Smith (100) notching up his 22nd century in Tests and half-centuries from fellow opener Alviro Petersen (67), Hashim Amla (80) and Jacques Kallis (53 not out).

The latter along with nightwatchman Paul Harris were at the crease when bad light ended play three balls earlier. Both teams were playing under lights already but the batsmen took the option when Umar Gul came into the attack with the new ball. South Africa were all set to end the day with only two wickets but Amla fell in the fourth over before close just when he looked all set to add his fourth hundred this year alone.

Earlier Pakistan suffered a major setback when the captain Mohammed Yousuf had to pull out at the last moment because of a groin injury. Yousuf injured himself during the practice just before the start of the game and has been advised 10 days rest, meaning he will miss the second of the two-Test series as well.

Intikhab Alam, the Pakistan team manager, confirmed: "Yousuf will fly back to Pakistan and will not be available for second Test in Abu Dhabi".

Except for Gul, none of the bowlers troubled the batsmen and the only wickets to fall were due to the batsmen's failure to get on top of loose deliveries.

Smith and Petersen had put on 153 runs as the opening partnership, their second highest total behind 338 against Pakistan when Petersen could not cash on to a very short delivery from Abdur Rehman. The rookie batsman holed out to Younus Khan for an aggressive knock of 67 giving the left-arm spinner the first breakthrough for Pakistan.

Smith, the Proteas captain, was very sedate earlier but started with three fours off  Gul immediately after the first session which ended with 101 for no loss. He overtook Petersen but the opener could not carry on after reaching his hundred.

He too fell in a tame fashion after failing to get on top of another short one, this off the bowling of left-arm medium pacer Wahab Riaz. Intending to clear the ropes over deep backward square leg, the weak shot was snared by Taufeeq Umar just before tea.

Amla was then caught behind by Adnan Akmal with Riaz getting his second wicket. The wicketkeeper made his debut after stepping in for Zulqarnain Haider who left the tour midway this week. Adnan is the middle brother of regular wicketkeeper Kamran and Umar who came into the squad for Yousuf.

This is the first Test to be played at the venue, the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, and the home series for Pakistan. It is also the first time since 2002 that a Test is being played as a neutral venue in the UAE since Pakistan and Australia played in the neighbouring emirate of Sharjah.

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