x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Kallis thwarts England bowlers

After scoring three centuries against England in their last visit in 2004-05, Jacques Kallis proves to be the immovable object yet again.

CENTURION // England must be sick of the sight of Jacques Kallis. After scoring three centuries against them when England last visited in 2004-05, Kallis proved to be the immovable object yet again leading South Africa's fine fightback to take charge on the first day of the Test series-opener in Centurion.

The South African No 4, still not fit to bowl following a recent rib injury, scored a quite brilliant hundred to finish the day on 112 not out after coming in at 51 for two and seeing his side slip to 93 for three. It put the Proteas in a position of dominance at 262 for four at the close with Kallis's partner, JP Duminy, making 38 of their unbeaten stand of 103. Kallis was not always pretty to watch but put together an effective knock with the right mix between defensive and attacking strokes.

His 32nd Test century spoilt England's fine start to the match and ensured South Africa's early triple whammy of misfortune was a distant memory. First, key man Dale Steyn, the world's No 1 Test bowler, was ruled out with a recurrence of his hamstring problem handing Friedel de Wet an unexpected debut. Then Graeme Smith lost the toss and was put into bat on a wicket that was still green - although the pitch later proved not to be a seam bowler's paradise as predicted.

Smith's difficult morning was over in just the second over of the match after he departed for a duck, just like his first innings of the 2004-05 series, nicking an innocuous Stuart Broad leg-side delivery with Matt Prior taking a good diving catch. That left the Proteas one for one but after Ashley Prince and Hashim Amla had weathered the early storm, the gods seemed to then turn against England. Graham Onions twice had lbw shouts turned down with England rightly resisting the temptation to challenge umpire Steve Davis's decisions. Moments later, Davis gave Prince out leg-before to the paceman, only to see the decision overturned on review as the ball was again going over the stumps.

But Onions persevered and had the South African No 3 caught by a fine low Paul Collingwood catch at second slip just before lunch. It was not a good day though for the Durham man - despite being the pick of England's bowlers in the morning session - and he was later hampered by a calf problem preventing him from bowling for more than three hours. It raised question marks over England's policy of playing Ian Bell and only the four bowlers.

Despite the wicket appearing ideal for the fast men, it was spinner Graeme Swann who gained the breakthrough in the second session with only his second ball of the game. Prince, set after a watchful 45, edged the England off-spinner to Collingwood at first slip for his second catch of the match. England were very much in the ascendency at 93 for three but Kallis led the South African counter- attack, hitting a delightful six down the ground and a four in Swann's next over.

Andrew Strauss's men struggled on their first day up against the Umpire Decision Referral System as Anderson's referred lbw appeal against Kallis was dismissed thanks to an inside edge. Moments later and it was Alastair Cook cursing after missing a run-out chance against AB de Villiers. Fielding at short leg, Cook's reaction throw missed the stumps but Prior took off the bails - a second too late.

Another moment of controversy went against England using up their second and final review in the process. De Villiers appeared to edge Swann's delivery to Prior but with no Snicko or Hot Spot in use during this series, Amiesh Saheba, the TV umpire, had no option but to uphold Davis's original not out decision. Swann, though, got his revenge just before tea when Cook claimed a bat-pad catch and De Villiers finally had to go for 32.

Duminy came in and struck one delightful blow off Swann on to the roof of the grandstand, but not even that could take the limelight away from his partner. Kallis's hook off Broad raised his three figures, to the delight of the flag-waving Centurion crowd enjoying a public holiday. A tired and dejected England have it all to do. sports@thenational.ae