ABU DHABI // AB de Villiers broke the record for the highest Test score by a South African at Zayed Cricket Stadium today and dedicated it to Graeme Smith, his captain in Abu Dhabi and the man he surpassed in the history books.
De Villiers scored an unbeaten 278, an innings that only came to an end after tea on the second day following Smith's declaration as the Proteas posted a first innings total of 584 for nine against Pakistan.
It was a marathon innings of over 10 hours though that looked difficult to believe when he raced through for the two runs that took him to 277. Next ball a flick through midwicket gave him the single that made him the Proteas' highest individual scorer overtaking Smith's 277 against England at Edgbaston in 2003.
With some criticising Smith for drawing De Villiers' innings to a premature end, the batsmen was fulsome in his praise of his captain's actions.
"It's a very special day. I'd like to dedicate this knock to Graeme. He showed a lot of class in his captaincy. I felt we could have declared before tea, but we carried on and he told me to push on and try and get the record and that's testimony to the man.
"Three hundred was never on my mind. I had never really even thought about the possibility of the record until I got the double hundred in India [he scored 217 not out in Ahmedabad in 2008]. Before then I was batting more for fun but that changed my mindset."
He came into the second day with 120 runs to his name and produced a sublime performance that included 23 fours and six sixes against a Pakistan attack that had brought him to the crease at 33 for three on the first morning.
"It's even more special to have played a role in getting us out of trouble. Yesterday Jacques [Kallis] was flying and I didn't find it that easy to score. I like to be known as a team player and there was no need for me to try and score runs. I just had to make sure we didn't get bowled out."
His innings wasn't completely chanceless and he looked to have edged Mohammed Sami behind when he was on just seven but umpire Daryl Harper remained unmoved. De Villiers refused to be drawn on whether that was the reason for numerous exchanges with a riled Pakistan bowler Umar Gul.
Gul bowled a hostile length and his figures of 0 for 137 fail to do justice to the troubles he caused the batsman on an even wicket. Debutant Tanvir Ahmed took two wickets to add to his tally from the first day to finished with figures of six for 120 including a wonderful inswinger that rattled into the stumps of Mark Boucher.
De Villiers said "Umar Gul's a good bowler and was one of the first to shake my hand. I won't tell you what was said. What goes on on the field, stays on the field. Gul challenged all the batsmen and we had to work hard to see him off. Tanvir also impressed all of us and he really got the ball to shape."
De Villiers was ably supported by the tail with Botha , Steyn , Harris  all making useful cameos before he was joined by Morne Morkel, who finished not out on 35.
Zayed Cricket Stadium will also go into the record books as the scene of South Africa's highest tenth-wicket partnership. De Villiers, along with former housemate Morkel, added 107 before the call came and in doing so surpassed their country's previous record that had stood since 1929.
Following the dismissal of Mohammed Hafeez in the first over, Taufeeq Umar and Azhar Ali steadied the ship seeing Pakistan to 59 for one at the close.
De Villiers said: "I felt the pitch got easier today and we handled the morning session well. It remains trickier in the mornings and it's important for us to try and exploit that tomorrow. We have to do the basics right. There's always something in the pitch and something there for the bowlers. I still back our guys to take 20 wickets."
South Africa, 1st innings (overnight 311-5)
¶ Graeme Smith c Akmal b Ahmed 10
¶ Alviro Petersen c Haq b Ahmed 2
¶ Hashim Amla c Akmal b Ahmed 4
¶ Jacques Kallis b Ahmed 105
¶ A.B. de Villiers not out 278
¶ Ashwell Prince c Shafiq b Hafeez 32
¶ Mark Boucher b Ahmed 45
¶ Johan Botha b Rehman 12
¶ Dale Steyn c Hafeez b Rehman 27
¶ Paul Harris c Akmal b Ahmed 19
¶ Morne Morkel not out 35
¶ Extras: (1lb, 6b, 6nb, 2w) 15
¶ TOTAL: (for 9 wickets, declared) 584
¶ Overs: 153.
¶ Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-6, 3-33, 4-212, 5-268, 6-341, 7-383, 8-442, 9-477.
¶ Bowling: Umar Gul 36-6-137-0 (1nb, 1w), Tanvir Ahmed 28-6-120-6 (4nb, 1w), Mohammad Sami 24-1-101-0, Younis Khan 3-1-11-0 (1nb), Abdur Rehman 50-9-150-2, Mohammed Hafeez 12-0-58-1.
Pakistan, 1st innings
¶ Mohammad Hafeez lbw Steyn 2
¶ Taufeeq Umar not out 16
¶ Azhar Ali not out 34
¶ Extras: (5b, 1nb, 1w) 7
¶ TOTAL: (for 1 wicket) 59
¶ Overs: 18.
¶ Fall of wickets: 1-2.
¶ Still to bat: Asad Shafiq, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Adnan Akmal, Abdur Rehman, Umar Gul, Mohammad Sami, Tanvir Ahmed.
¶ Bowling: Dale Steyn 7-0-27-1 (1w), Morne Morkel 7-3-15-0 (1nb), Jacques Kallis 4-1-12-0