Sri Lanka ground out 220 for five at Sharjah on an attritional first day of the third and final Test with Pakistan.
That suited Angelo Mathews' side, who need only to avoid defeat for their first away Test series win versus a major nation since 1999-2000. Since then they have won Test rubbers in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
Following Sri Lanka’s nine-wicket victory in Dubai on Sunday, Mathews struck an early blow by winning the toss and predictably opting to bat first. He announced a format debut for off-spinner Dilruwan Perera.
Opening batsmen Dimuth Karunaratne and Kaushal Silva set the tone for the day with a steady stand of 31 until the recalled Mohammad Talha had Silva caught behind.
Although Kumar Sangakkara accompanied Karunaratne to lunch, in the over after, Abdur Rehman, another back in the side along with Azhar Ali, deceived the latter into edging to slip while on 34.
Sangakkara raised a fifty while adding 60 with Mahela Jayawardene, but gave his wicket away on 52 by chipping Junaid Khan to midwicket.
Following tea Jayawardene briefly increased the tempo only to fall three short of a half-century, inside-edging Saeed Ajmal to short-leg. The spinner snared Dinesh Chandimal soon after via a leading-edge to mid-on.
Talha could not accept a tough caught-and-bowled chance from Mathews, who had not scored. The captain and Prasanna Jayawardene added an unbroken 54 to stumps, by when Pakistan had taken the second new ball.