Dubai: Rival captains Misbah-ul-Haq and Graeme Smith hailed Younis Khan's brilliant hundred which helped Pakistan salvage a fighting draw in the first Test on Tuesday.
Younis, 32, remained unbeaten on 131 to guide Pakistan to safety on the fifth and final day at the Dubai Stadium after they were set a daunting 451-run target. Pakistan finished on 343-3.
Misbah, who himself scored 76 not out and shared a new Pakistan-South Africa series record of 186 for the unfinished fourth wicket, said Younis saved the day for his team.
"Younis is a world class player and he proved his worth with a fighting knock," said Misbah of Younis who was playing his first Test since July last year after being sidelined because of an indefinite ban and a fall-out with team-mates.
"He Younis is a wonderful team man and his knock helped us draw this Test, also giving us the boost in confidence for the next Test," said Misbah of the final Test starting in Abu Dhabi from November 20.
"The result is a gift for the fans back home celebrating Eid," said Misbah of the annual festival on Wednesday.
Pakistan resumed the day on 109-2 and needed to bat out 90 overs on the final day. Younis added 82 runs for the third wicket with Azhar Ali, who made 63 before thwarting South African hopes in Misbah's company.
"We knew it's going to be tough, but we remained positive and to our advantage there was nothing in the pitch for the bowlers," said Misbah of the track at the Dubai Stadium, hosting a Test for the first time.
With little support from the pitch, South Africa were also sloppy in the field, dropping three catches - two off Younis and one off Misbah - which skipper Smith regretted.
"Unfortunately, we missed a few chances which probably put us on the backfoot. Once Younis Khan especially got in, he batted superbly well. Credit to him for his knock," said Smith of Younis's hundred - his 17th in Tests.
Wicket-keeper Mark Boucher failed to hold onto a regulation catch when Younis, on 16, edged paceman Dale Steyn in the fourth over of the day. Later Jacques Kallis dropped Younis - again off Steyn - when the batsman was on 73.
"I guess we are a little bit disappointed we couldn't close it off, but it was always going to be a big push I think. The wicket got a lot slower as the game went on and we knew it would be tough to get them out," said Smith.
Smith refused to criticise the pitch.
I think the wicket, for the groundsman and everybody, was a bit of an unknown thing, how it would play. We even chatted with the groundsman and even he wasn't sure how it would play over five days.
It just seemed to get slower and more difficult for bowlers to get response out of it. I think once a batter got settled and got used to the pace of the wicket. Hopefully there will be more on offer for the bowlers in Abu Dhabi.