Sharjah: Left-handers Tharanga Paranavitana and Kumar Sangakkara struck half centuries on Sunday as Sri Lanka bid to level the series with victory over Pakistan in the third and final Test.
Paranavitana hit an undefeated 66 on the fourth day to lead Sri Lanka to a second-innings 164-5 at stumps, an overall advantage of 237 runs heading into the final day. Sangakkara was dismissed for 51.
Earlier Chanaka Welegedara's 5-87 helped Sri Lanka seize a first innings lead of 73 after bowling Pakistan out for 340 by lunch at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Opener Paranavitana hit four fours and a six while Sangakkara supplied early momentum by striking two fours and two sixes in 91 balls.
Pacer Umar Gul (2-35) and off-spinner Saeed Ajmal (2-44) were Pakistan's best bowlers.
Sri Lanka, trailing the series 1-0, got an early boost when Pakistan started the day at 282-6 in pursuit of the visitors' total of 413. Left-arm seamer Welegedara dismissed Abdur Rehman (3) with the final ball of the first over.
Rehman edged to second slip where Mahela Jayawardene fluffed the chance but Paranavitana at first slip was there to grab the rebound.
Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath (3-85) quickly claimed Gul for 5 caught at mid-off by Angelo Mathews. With Pakistan on 289-8, Sri Lanka sensed a big lead.
But Misbah-ul-Haq stretched his overnight 50 to within sight of a fourth Test century and shared a crucial ninth wicket stand of 47 with Ajmal (12 not out).
Misbah was dropped three times in the session — by wicketkeeper Kaushal Silva on 52, Angelo Mathews on 53, and Paranavitana on 66.
Misbah eventually went for 89, top-edging a sweep to provide off-spinner Suraj Randiv his first wicket in the innings. The right-handed batsman struck seven fours and a six off 261 balls.
Welegedara returned to mop up the innings and snare his maiden five-wicket haul in his 14th Test.
Last man Junaid Khan (0) had his off stump rattled by an outswinger from the 30-year-old Welegedara.
Pakistan struck early in Sri Lanka's second innings with success for Gul with the new ball.
Captain Tillakaratne Dilshan edged to third slip where Mohammad Hafeez grasped a low catch at 5-1.
Gul should have added the wicket of Paranavitana soon afterwards but Asad Shafiq grassed a sharp gully opportunity.
Paranavitana struggled to assert himself early but Sangakkara — fresh off a brilliant 144 in the first innings — passed 500 runs in the series before he fell soon after tea after sharing a second wicket partnership of 75 with Paranavitana.
Mahela Jayawardene completed a miserable series when he was leg before wicket to Gul for 20 at 127-3.
With an early declaration on Monday in mind, Sri Lanka tried to up the run rate in the final hour but lost the wickets of Mathews (13) and Kaushal Silva, both lbw to Ajmal playing across the line of off-breaks.
Paranavitana survived to the end with Kosala Kulasekara (4 not out), although the latter was lucky to survive a run out opportunity.
Pakistan won the second Test at Dubai by 9 wickets after a drawn first Test at Abu Dhabi.