DUBAI: Opener Dimuth Karunaratne scored a dashing half-century to guide Sri Lanka to 174-3 at dinner on the first day of the second and final day-night Test against Pakistan in Dubai on Friday.
Karunaratne was unbeaten on 89 and captain Dinesh Chandimal was 14 not out after Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to bat on a flat pitch.
Karunaratne and opening partner Kaushal Silva (27) gave Sri Lanka a solid 63-run start before Pakistan hit back with three wickets in quick succession.
Leg-spinner Yasir Shah provided his team with the much-needed breakthrough when he had Silva caught behind off a short delivery.
Debutant Sadeera Samarawickrama impressed during his short stay of 38 runs, hitting five boundaries and a six before he miscued a pull and was caught and bowled by pacer Mohammad Amir.
Kusal Mendis played a rash drive off Shah and was caught in the slips for one.
Karunaratne cracked three boundaries in an Amir over and hit Shah for another to reach his sixth Test fifty.
Earlier, Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bat in the day-night Test against Pakistan in Dubai on Friday.
Dinesh Chandimal’s team will look to become the first to win a Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, whereas for Pakistan, it is a must-win encounter to save the series.
Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath, 39, was the catalyst for a 21-run victory in the first Test in Abu Dhabi on Monday, as he took 6-43 to foil Pakistan´s modest chase of 136.
The narrow win gives Sri Lanka a unique chance for a series win over Pakistan at their neutral venues of the UAE, where they have never lost a series in nine attempts.
They have won five and drawn four in the UAE since the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan team bus forced them to play home matches outside of Pakistan.
Sri Lankan skipper Chandimal said Pakistani batsmen struggle against Herath.
“Normally the Pakistan batters really struggle against the left-arm spinners. We all know Rangana is a legend so I am sure he will be a really good asset for this game as well,” said Chandimal of his match-winner, who took his 400th Test wicket in Abu Dhabi.
Herath also reached 100 wickets against Pakistan during the first Test, but Chandimal warned that the Sri Lankan´s opponents should not be taken lightly.
“We never underestimate Pakistan, they are a really good side, especially in the last couple of series they have played really good cricket,” said Chandimal, whose team will replace Pakistan at sixth in the world rankings with a series win.
Chandimal anchored the batting with a polished 155 not out in Sri Lanka´s first-innings total of 419, ably filling in for the more experienced Angelo Mathews, who didn´t travel with the squad due to a calf injury.
They are without senior batsman Lahiru Thirimanne, who is suffering from a back problem and has been replaced by the uncapped Sadeera Samarawickrama.
Pakistan are without seamer Hasan Ali, who has a side strain, and has been replaced by left-arm fast bowler Wahab Riaz.
Captain Sarfraz Ahmed hopes Pakistan move on from the defeat in his first Test as captain.
“Credit must be given to Herath the way he bowled,” said Sarfraz. “We have never lost in UAE so it´s also important to keep that record intact, so for that we need to attack Herath and play with a positive mindset.”
Pakistan will also hope spearhead Mohammad Amir returns to form with the pink ball after going wicketless in the first Test.
Debutant Haris Sohail provided a positive in the batting after scores of 76 and 34, while Azhar Ali hit 85.
The match is the sixth day-night Test after the first between Australia and New Zealand at Adelaide in 2015.
Pakistan beat the West Indies in their first day-night Test at the same venue last year, but this will be Sri Lanka´s maiden pink-ball Test.
Umpires: Nigel Llong (ENG) and Richard Kettleborough (ENG)
Tv umpire: Sundaram Ravi (IND)
ICC match referee: Andy Pycoft (ZIM)