Pakistan were facing defeat at 36/3 in their second innings at the close on the third day of the first Test against Sri Lanka yesterday after being set a formidable winning target of 510 runs.
Sri Lanka, who scored 472 in the first innings, closed their second innings at 137/5, leaving Pakistan with a tough task of batting out 15 overs and an entire two days to save the Test.
Pakistan, who were shot out for 100 in their first innings, lost wickets regularly during their run chase.
Nuwan Kulasekera once again broke through the Pakistan batting ranks to finish with 2/13.
He separated the openers when he had skipper Mohammad Hafeez edging a low catch to Mahela Jayawardene at first slip in the fifth over.
Kulasekera struck again 10 minutes before the close when he bowled the other opener, Taufiq Umar, through the gate for 10.
Rangana Herath picked up the wicket of Azhar Ali for seven when he edged a catch to Thilan Samaraweera at second slip.
Younis Khan (0) and nightwatchman Saeed Ajmal (11) survived the remaining overs but Pakistan still required 474 more runs.
The hosts, having decided against enforcing the follow-on, lost three wickets in the afternoon session looking for quick runs.
Tharanga Paranavitana (25) and Tillakaratne Dilshan set the tone with an opening partnership of 81 off 20 overs before Saeed Ajmal separated them.
Ajmal won a leg-before appeal against Paranavitana and four runs later, Dilshan fell to Junaid Khan to depart after a 58-ball 56.
Kumar Sangakkara made just one run before mis-timing a drive to extra cover where Umar held the catch to give Ajmal his second wicket of the innings.
Sri Lanka lost Mahela Jayawardene for 14 and Samaraweera for 15 after the tea break before applying the closure to their innings.
Earlier, spinners Herath and Suraj Randiv bowled Pakistan out for 100 at lunch after the visitors had resumed on 48/5.
Pakistan’s last five wickets lasted just a session as Herath (3/30) and Randiv (4/13) ran through the bottom order.
Left-arm spinner Herath made the first breakthrough of the day by trapping Khan (29) leg before.
Compounding Pakistan’s misery, debutant Mohammad Ayub and wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal were involved in a mix-up where both batsmen finished at the striker’s end.
After Akmal departed for nine, the end came swiftly.
Randiv trapped Abdur Rehman lbw for one and finished off the innings when Umar Gul (two) made a big heave and the resulting top edge was caught by wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene to give the bowler his fourth wicket of the innings.
Herath ended Ayub’s innings at 25, trapping him lbw.