(CNN) -- Jacques Kallis moved into joint third place on cricket's all-time Test century list as he helped South Africa recover from a disastrous start to the opening match of the series against top-ranked India in Nagpur on Saturday.
The all-rounder joined Brian Lara and Sunil Gavaskar in having scored 34 tons in the five-day game as he posted 159 on the opening day, putting on an unbroken 285 with Hashim Amla as the tourists battled back from losing two wickets for only six runs.
The 34-year-old right-hander reached the milestone in his 136th match, five more than West Indian Lara and 11 more than India's Gavaskar.
Only India's Sachin Tendulkar, who will seek to add to his record tally of 45 centuries in this match, and Australia captain Ricky Ponting (39) have passed three figures more times than that trio.
Amla ended the day on 115, his eighth century in his 42 Test, having come to the crease after India's left-arm quick bowler Zaheer Khan had Ashwell Prince caught behind by wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni for a duck, fending off a short ball.
India, who have taken South Africa's top ranking of the nine Test-playing nations, struck again soon after when Zaheer clean bowled Proteas captain Graeme Smith for six.
But Kallis took the attack to the bowlers, and had scored 120 of South Africa's tea total of 193-2.
Amla had only 38 to his name when Kallis reached his ton, but then took charge in the third and final session as hit hit 55 of the 92 runs scored.
It ended a frustrating day for the home side, who had to give reserve wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha his debut as a specialist batsman after VVS Laxman failed a fitness test and Rohit Sharma injured himself playing football in the warm-up.
Dhoni then lost the toss, and Zaheer's early exploits proved to be a false dawn.