CAPE TOWN, South Africa - Jacques Kallis hit 159 not out in his 150th test on Tuesday to guide South Africa to a dominant 347-3 against Sri Lanka at stumps on day one of the series decider at Newlands.
Kallis marked the milestone match at his home ground with a 41st test hundred and shared a 205-run partnership with recalled opener Alviro Petersen (109).
Kallis attacked from the start of the third test to boost South Africa's hopes of a first home series win since 2008. The 36-year-old right-hander took just 42 balls to reach 50 and 114 balls for his century. He hit 21 fours and a six in all as Sri Lanka was made to pay for its decision to send South Africa in to bat on a true pitch in Cape Town.
"We were surprised," Petersen said of Sri Lanka skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan's call. "The wicket looked like it was quite dry and we wanted to bat first anyway. We were quite surprised when they put us into bat. The team with runs on the board can put pressure on the opposition."
Dhammika Prasad had 2-85 for Sri Lanka's beleaguered bowlers, while Chanaka Welegedara dismissed Petersen for his 1-75, but Kallis then combined with AB de Villiers (45 not out) for an unbroken 86-run stand in the late afternoon to see South Africa through to the close in complete control.
Kallis celebrated becoming the sixth man to play 150 tests with a century just before tea and Petersen reached 100 early in the final session as South Africa capitalized after being given the chance to bat first.
Prasad marked his first match on tour with a wicket off his first ball when South Africa captain Graeme Smith played on for 16. Prasad also had Hashim Amla (16) out lbw to leave South Africa on 56-2.
But Petersen and Kallis responded with a record partnership for South Africa against Sri Lanka. The pair hit boundaries all around the ground to overtake the 165-run stand between Jacques Rudolph and Andrew Hall in Colombo in 2006.
"We didn't bowl well, especially the first session. We let them go. We lost the grip," Sri Lanka bowling coach Champaka Ramanayake said. "We thought the wicket would do something but it didn't do as we expected. But there's another day tomorrow, we can come back."
Kallis stroked a string of straight and cover drives to go to 50. He didn't let up in the afternoon session, producing a precious innings with the three-match series on the line at 1-1.
He hit 17 fours in his century to complete a career set of hundreds against every test team. Only India's Sachin Tendulkar (51) has made more test centuries than Kallis.
"In his 150th test match he really played the way South Africa has come to know him," Petersen said of his teammate. "Full credit must go to him."
Petersen had provided South Africa with the early initiative in his first test in a year after he was recalled in place of Ashwell Prince. He had 12 fours and a six to go to the brink of three figures by tea, then reached 100 with a clip to the legside soon after the break. South Africa scored at nearly five runs an over through the first two sessions of the match.
Boosted by its 208-run win in the second test in Durban last week, Sri Lanka is chasing a first ever series win in South Africa but appeared to have made a major mistake in the crucial third test by putting the home team in on a pitch which was good to bat on first up, and could deteriorate for the team batting last.
Prasad did make an immediate impact after being introduced in the fifth over when Smith was cramped for space and chopped on to his stumps. Amla was trapped on the back foot in front of leg stump but after that the batsmen were barely troubled in ideal batting conditions.
Only a half-chance off Kallis in the outfield and some skittish running when both players were approaching their centuries looked like breaking the partnership until Petersen fell.
That breakthrough came when the opening batsman chipped a catch to Dilshan in the covers off Welegedara but South Africa was already 261-3 and — inspired by Kallis — on course for a big first-innings total.
"Kallis is a class player. He showed that today," Ramanayake said.
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