JOHANNESBURG Hashim Amla became the eighth player to score a century in their 100th test as he guided South Africa to a commanding 338 for three at the close of play on day one of the third and final test against Sri Lanka at The Wanderers on Thursday.
Amla ended months of frustration as he put behind him some wretched recent form that had seen him without a 50 in his previous 10 test innings to finish the day on 125 not out.
The 33-year-old put on 292 for the third wicket with JP Duminy (155), a record for any wicket for South Africa against Sri Lanka, to boost their chances of a series clean-sweep.
He will resume in the morning with debutant nightwatchman Duanne Olivier, who has yet to score.
"It was never a big thing in my mind, playing the 100th test, I just wanted to get some runs on the board," Amla told reporters at the close. “You are never in on this wicket. It was just about spending time at the crease.
"I am grateful for the 100 games, but also for getting runs for the team. It was frustrating not contributing to the team's success."
Amla offered a simple chance to gully when on five that was put down by Dhananjaya de Silva and grew in stature as his innings progressed on a wicket that had some life in it.
He reached his 26th century off 169 balls, with the second 50 taking just 60 deliveries as he picked the gaps in the field with ease.
He joins an elite group of players who have made a century in their 100th test -- the others being Colin Cowdrey, Javed Miandad, Gordon Greenidge, Alec Stewart, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Ricky Ponting (both innings) and Graeme Smith.
Duminy had initially been the aggressor in the partnership and went to his sixth test century off 140 balls, displaying some immaculate timing and straight drives down the ground.
He was eventually caught at second slip by Kusal Mendis off the bowling of teenage seamer Lahiru Kumara (2-79) in the penultimate over of the day.
The pair wrested the initiative away from Sri Lanka, who had made a bright start in seamer-friendly conditions, having been asked to bowl.
South Africa’s openers Stephen Cook (10) and Dean Elgar (27) put on 45 in an hour before both fell at the same score.
The home side handed a debut to 24-year-old seamer Olivier, the leading wicket-taker in domestic four-day cricket, in place of spinner Keshav Maharaj.
(Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by John O'Brien, Neville Dalton)