Cape Town, Feb 15: Younis Khan and Asad Shafiq proved Pakistan learned some lessons from their heavy defeat to South Africa in the first test after all, as their 219-run partnership allowed them to close day one of the second test on 253-5.
Having been bowled out for 49 in the first innings in Johannesburg, there was an air of familiarity about proceedings on Thursday morning as Pakistan was reduced to 33-4 by South Africa's formidable pace attack.
However, Younis and Shafiq showed that survival was perfectly possible on a benign surface - particularly once the ball lost its shine - as they batted for nearly six hours.
Younis was caught behind off the bowling of Vernon Philander for 111 shortly before stumps, but Shafiq was unbeaten on 111 at the close of play.
"We had a lot of good meetings about how to play test cricket," Younis said. "This wicket is much better for batting. If we play one more good session we could have a good score."
The visitors lost the first test by 211 runs, all 20 of their wickets falling to the Proteas' quicks, and their insecurities against the fast-bowling battery were clear in the morning session as Philander, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel took ruthless advantage.
After Graeme Smith won the toss and elected to bowl, South Africa needed only eight overs to bag a wicket when Philander found the edge of Nasir Jamshed's bat to give wicketkeeper AB de Villiers the first of his three catches.
Steyn had Mohammed Hafeez caught at first slip by Smith, and Morkel struck a double blow in the 17th over when Azhar Ali drove and edged behind, and captain Misbah-ul-Haq fended a short ball to Dean Elgar at short leg.
It looked as though South Africa might once again make light work of its opponent, but Shafiq was one of two batsmen - Misbah being the other - who stood up to the Proteas at the Wanderers and he found an experienced ally in Younis.
Both batsmen left the ball well at the beginning of their innings, and also when the second new ball became available at the end of the day, and were content to go after spinner Robin Peterson.
Younis brought up his 21st century, and first in a year, off 192 balls. Two overs later, Shafiq reached his third century with his 13th boundary. He took 201 balls.
While the seamers provided few scoring opportunities and all went for less than 2.5 runs per over, Peterson conceded 85 runs in 19 wicketless overs.
"The wicket was pretty good," Philander said. "They are very wristy players, and they played Robbie well.
"They had two guys who got stuck in, but we will have another chance tomorrow."
The 219-run stand between Younis and Shafiq was the highest partnership in South Africa by a touring team since 2006, but it came to an end with just two overs remaining in the day when Philander found the inside edge of Younis' bat, and de Villiers claimed the catch.