Record-breaking De Villiers puts Proteas in control

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> AB de Villiers hit the highest Test score of 278 not out for South Africa to put his team in a dominant position against Pakistan.

Updated: November 21, 2010 15:04 IST
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Abu Dhabi:

AB de Villiers hit the highest Test score of 278 not out for South Africa to put his team in a dominant position against Pakistan on the second day of the second Test at Abu Dhabi Stadium on Sunday.

The 26-year-old from Pretoria smashed 23 boundaries and six sixes during his 618-minute stay at the crease to guide South Africa, suprisingly put into bat on Saturday, to 584-9 declared before restricting Pakistan to 59-1 at close.

Pakistan -- needing another 326 to avoid the follow-on -- lost opener Mohammad Hafeez, leg-before to paceman Dale Steyn for two in the first over of the innings, recovered with Taufiq Umer 16 not out and Azhar Ali unbeaten on 34 when bad light stopped play seven overs before time.

The second day belonged to De Villiers who punished the bowlers throughout his 418-ball knock, beating the highest Test score by a South African batsman held by captain Graeme Smith with 277, made against England at Birmingham in 2003.

De Villiers reached the milestone in the second over after tea, smashing Mohammad Hafeez for his sixth six before taking a single off Umar Gul to better the record, raising his bat towards Smith, who declared the innings.

He added a South African record of 107 for the last wicket with Morne Morkel, who remained unbeaten on 35, erasing the 81-year old record of 103 set by Tuppy Smith and Sandy Bell against England at Leeds.

De Villiers dedicated his record-breaking knock to his captain.

"I dedicate this innings to my captain (Smith) who wanted me to break this record, and it is wonderful to have this in my name," said De Villiers. "When I reached 250 I thought it's declaration time but Smith sent twelfth man to tell me about the 277 record."

Morkel too feasted on a tiring Pakistan attack, hitting five boundaries, including 17 off one over from debutant paceman Tanveer Ahmed, who finished with 6-120, the tenth time a Pakistani bowler has taken five wickets on his Test debut.

Resuming at his overnight score of 120, De Villiers added 73 for the sixth wicket with Mark Boucher (45), 42 with Johan Botha (12) for the seventh and another 59 for the eighth with Steyn, who made 27.

He hit Gul for his 14th boundary to complete his second double hundred off 369 balls, eventually improving on his previous best of 217 not out he made against India at Ahmedabad in April 2008.

Earlier, Ahmed had reached his own landmark when he bowled Boucher with a sharp incoming delivery. Boucher hit six boundaries during his 90-ball innings.

De Villiers continued in the same vein, hitting Ahmed for three boundaries in an over, to keep South Africa on track for a big total.

In between left-arm spinner Abdul Rehman dismissed Botha and Steyn while Ahmed removed Harris but De Villiers hit two sixes off one Hafeez over to keep South Africa on track for a big total.

De Villiers's brilliance left Pakistan fighting to save the series after the first Test ended in a draw in Dubai on Tuesday.

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