GALLE, Sri Lanka: Opener Dean Elgar notched a superb 103 Wednesday as South Africa reached 268-5 on the opening day of the first test against Sri Lanka.
Elgar dominated both pace and spin bowling to smash 11 fours and three sixes during his 187-ball knock and was supported well by Faf du Plessis, who struck a fine 80 coming in at No.3.
Elgar batted just over two sessions and hit three sixes and 11 fours to bring up his second test century.
However, the hosts hit back in the final session with four wickets as South Africa suffered a middle-order slump.
At stumps, wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock was batting on 17 and Dale Steyn was yet to score.
The left-handed Elgar seized the early initiative with free strokes against the seam bowlers and good use of the feet against spinners.
Elgar and de Plessis were not afraid to go for the shots and also rotated the strike well in what was the fourth century partnership between them.
The pair added 125 runs for the second wicket after Elgar and Alviro Petersen had put on 70 in their opening stand.
Elgar got to the three-figure mark with a six to long-on off off-spinner Dilruwan Perera to move from 96 to 102 after batting cautiously earlier in the 90s. He was caught behind swishing at a delivery from seam bowler Suranga Lakmal, who bagged two wickets in the last session.
South Africa had looked set to end the day in a better position but lost new captain Hashim Amla for 11 with Du Plessis and A.B. de Villiers (21) also following him as South Africa slipped from 195-1 to 266-5.
Du Plessis was well set, striking five fours and a six but was caught at short leg off off-spinner Dilruwan Perera to give Sri Lanka the window of opportunity.
Earlier, Petersen was trapped lbw by Perera with a straight delivery after striking four fours off 46 deliveries. Petersen asked for a review, but replays showed the ball would have hit leg stump.
This is the first test for South Africa after the retirement of Graeme Smith. Amla became only the second non-white captain of South Africa after Ashwell Prince, and the first to be appointed as permanent skipper.
South Africa won a preceding one-day series 2-1 under de Villiers, who is playing in this match as a specialist batsman due to a hamstring injury with de Kock to keep wickets.