Galle, Sri Lanka - Pakistan fought back through their spinners to restrict Sri Lanka to 439 for eight wickets at tea on the second day of the first Test on Saturday.
Sri Lanka scored 73 runs in the afternoon session losing three further wickets and squandering some of the advantage having resumed the day on a commanding 300 for two.
Kumar Sangakkara, who anchored the Sri Lanka innings, was batting on 170 scored off 335 balls with the help of 17 fours when tea was called soon after Nuwan Kulasekara's dismissal.
Pakistan resorted to their three-pronged spin attack after Saeed Ajmal (5-140) had done the initial damage by taking three wickets in the morning session and the ploy paid off.
Stand-in skipper Mohammad Hafeez (2-42) and Abdur Rehman (1-118) shared three wickets between them to peg back the hosts.
Off-spinner Hafeez broke a threatening sixth wicket stand of 80 between Sangakkara and Prasanna Jayawardene (48), who drove at a ball that spun and offered an outside edge to wicket-keeper Adnan Akmal.
Left-arm spinner Rehman caught Suraj Randiv (eight) off his own bowling and Hafeez picked up his second wicket when he removed the scoreless Kulasekara on the stroke of tea.
However, the morning session was dominated by Ajmal who claimed his sixth five-wicket haul.
The 34-year-old spinner captured three wickets - including two off successive deliveries - for 10 runs off 22 balls to peg back the hosts.
Pakistan's new ball bowlers Umar Gul and Junaid Khan once again toiled without luck, prompting Hafeez to introduce Ajmal after seven overs of seam bowling and the spinner did not let down his skipper.
The top-ranked test spinner dealt a crucial blow when he bowled out Mahela Jayawardene (62) after the Sri Lanka captain had fluffed his slog-sweep.
The spinner then lured Thilan Samaraweera (six) out of his crease with a 'doosra' to get him stumped and caught the scoreless Angelo Mathews off his own bowling in the next delivery.
Sri Lanka lost three middle order batsmen for 20 runs within a matter of 36 minutes and the flurry of wickets slowed down Sangakkara. – Reuters