Top order keeps South Africans solid
South Africans 332 for 5 (Kallis 70, de Vlliers 58, Petersen 58) v Pakistan A
Four of South Africa's top five strolled to half-centuries against Pakistan A in Sharjah on a surface reminiscent of the ones they played the two Test series on in 2010 for its lifelessness. JP Duminy threatened to extend that feat as he finished the first day on an unbeaten 49. The odd man out was captain Graeme Smith, who needed the match time the most, but was dismissed for 2.
After Pakistan A put the South Africans in to bat, in conditions Umar Amin said he thought would be helpful because of early moisture, they were almost rewarded in the fifth over. Smith was dropped at first slip after prodding awkwardly at an Ehsan Adil delivery. It only took two overs more before the seamer was rewarded. He had Smith out lbw with South Africa on just 8.
That was the only joy the Pakistan A attack had until much later in the day. Alviro Petersen and Hashim Amla displayed Test-match temperament against a disciplined Pakistan pace attack. They collected runs leisurely - Petersen strong on the drive while Amla enjoyed the cut shot past point - and by lunch they had settled in nicely.
The first hour of the middle session was profitable for both. They scored quickly against Pakistan's spinners, who posed little threat early on, with both bringing up half-centuries before retiring.
Jacques Kallis took over from where they left off and played with unusual aggressiveness upfront. His pinpoint straight drives did not seem to be the shots of a man who has not played any cricket since the IPL. AB de Villiers was more circumspect but soon found his stride as well, as the Pakistan attack grew more weary.
The South African batsmen added 134 runs in the second session and did not lose a single wicket. Kallis and de Villiers returned after tea and seemed ready to bat out the day, but careless shots got the better of them. Kallis offered a simple return catch to Sohaib Maqsoob, which looked the stroke of a heat exhausted man, while de Villiers mistimed a pull to mid-wicket, where Umar Amin was ready to take the catch.
That gave Usman Qadir, the son of Abdul who has acted as a mentor to South Africa's legspinner, Imran Tahir, his first wicket in the match. The younger Qadir found significant turn as the afternoon wore on, although he, like the other spinners, was expensive.
The South Africans will take confidence from the way their line-up dealt with the turn, with the lower middle-order also handling it with relative ease. JP Duminy continued to show how well he has recovered from time out of the game, and swept at will, while Faf du Plessis took his time to get in and played slowly, but with attention to detail.
The teams have agreed an enforced declarations after 100 overs which will give Duminy and du Plessis, and perhaps Robin Peterson, just 10 overs more batting time. Then it will be the turn of the bowlers to see what impact they can make on a surface that is not offering much in the heat, which the South Africans are still adjusting to.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent