With cricket still unable to be played in Pakistan due to safety concerns, South Africa and Pakistan have headed to Abu Dhabi to play on neutral turf in a two-match series that began on Monday at Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
South African skipper Graeme Smith won the toss and elected to bat and it immediately looked a risky move when the Proteas were 2-19 and 3-43, but a 95-run stand between Amla and JP Duminy saw the Proteas finish the opening day's play at 8-245 with a full 90 overs bowled by Pakistan.
Amla remains not out at the wicket on an unbeaten 118 that has come from 250 deliveries with 13 boundaries and he will resume the second day's play with Dale Steyn at the other end who is not out on 13 after hitting a four and a six already in his 23-ball innings.
Zulfiqar Babar is making his Test debut for Pakistan at 34, almost 35, years of age and was impressive with his left-arm orthodox bowling finishing with figures of 3-89 from 27 overs on the opening day.
He was certainly made to work for his first Test match for his country having racked up 63 first class matches where he has taken 309 wickets at an outstanding average of just over 20 with 19 five-wicket hauls and a career best of 10-143.
Giant left-arm quick Mohammad Irfan claimed 2-42 before going off in the 61st over with what looked like only cramp and certainly Pakistan will be hoping that is the case.
His fellow left-arm opening bowler Junaid Khan also did well claiming 1-52 and Saeed Ajmal bowled 28 overs for 1-57.
It took less than three overs for Irfan to strike first when he had South African opener out for three. Smith then joined his opening partner in the pavilion when Irfan also had him caught behind by Adnan Akmal for 15 and the Proteas were in trouble at 2-19.
Things didn’t get much better when Jacques Kallis was also out caught behind, this time off Junaid, for five and South Africa slumped to 3-43 before Amla was joined by AB de Villiers at the crease.
The going was far from quick between Amla and de Villiers, but they did well to stem the flow of wickets putting together a partnership of 61 from 143 delivers before de Villiers was run out for 19.
That brought Duminy to the wicket and the tempo of South Africa's innings quickly picked up and he and Amla combined for 95 for the fifth wicket before Duminy fell when caught by Asad Shafiq off Zulfiqar Babar.
Duminy made 57 from 94 delivers with six boundaries and a six, but Babar had his eye in and almost immediately also claimed the scalps of Faf du Plessis for one and Robin Peterson for five to see South Africa slip to 7-217.
It was then 8-222 when Ajmal got in on the fun trapping Vernon Philander in front and getting the LBW decision going his way before Amla and Steyn got South Africa to stumps on 8-245 after the opening day.