Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq steadied the Pakistan second innings with an unbroken 113-run stand after their team appeared to be heading for a heavy defeat by losing three quick wickets in the second Test against Sri Lanka in Dubai on Friday.
At stumps on the third day, Pakistan reached 132 for three wickets, still trailing their opponents by 91 runs, with Younus (62) and Misbah (53) unbeaten at the crease.
Resuming on 318 for four, Sri Lanka were all out for 388 in their first innings in the morning, losing their last six wickets for 68 runs.
Pakistan's second innings started abysmally as left-arm spinner Rangana Herath dismissed opener Ahmed Shehzad at the stroke of lunch and paceman Nuwan Pradeep struck twice early in the afternoon to reduce them to 19 for three.
That brought Younis, who completed his 28th half century in Tests, and captain Misbah together and the pair went about carefully in their rescue mission.
Younis said the fightback will continue.
“It's nice to fight back,” said Younis. “I had a good partnership with Misbah when the team needed it and our first target on Saturday will be to erase the lead and then bat on.”
Misbah was lucky to survive a couple of run-out chances but looked solid on the way to his 23rd Test fifty.
Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford said that the first session of play on the fourth morning on Saturday would be crucial for both teams.
“Hopefully early tomorrow there will be a little bit more on the wicket and with the overnight freshness hopefully we can get something happening and going our way,” said Ford after the third day's play.
“If we get two quick ones then it will be a different game. Tomorrow morning’s first session is going to be a very big one for both teams.”
Ford admitted that Sri Lanka losing their last six wickets for 70 runs was disappointing.
“You are always greedy and you want more but having said that Pakistan bowled very well this morning. There were a couple of good deliveries that got some of our players out. That’s what we’ve got to strive for tomorrow.”
There was some concern for Sri Lanka as they don’t have a part-time spinner to support Herath.
“We are perhaps a little light in the bowling. (Tillkaratne) Dilshan always offered an extra spinner if we played three quicks unfortunately we don’t have that luxury anymore,” said Ford highlighting the absence of the just retired all-rounder.
“But like I said if there is a little bit of freshness tomorrow morning and hopefully there is something for the seamers we can make an impact and as the day goes on Rangana does his job as well. We don’t have any other options. We got to go out and do the business with what we’ve got.”
Earlier, Angelo Mathews (42), who was dropped by wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed off Rahat Ali on Thursday evening, edged a similar delivery from the same bowler in the morning.
Sarfraz made no mistake this time, diving to complete the catch, and the Sri Lanka captain departed without adding to his overnight score after a 93-run stand with Mahela Jayawardene.
Jayawardene, running out of partners, went for some quick runs and was bowled on 129, trying to play a reverse sweep against Saeed Ajmal.
During the course of his innings, the stylish right-hander passed Australian Steve Waugh to move to number eight on the list of highest run-scorers in Tests. Waugh had scored 10,927 runs, while Jayawardene's tally stands at 10,940.
Younis Khan (62) and Misbah-ul-Haq (53) score half centuries as Pakistan scored 132 for three in 49 overs in the second innings, still trailing by 91 runs.
Earlier Sri Lanka posted 388 runs in the first innings after Mahela Jayawardene scored a brilliant 129 while Angelo Mathews scored 42.
The umpires are checking the lights. Yes, play is called off early.
Pakistan's senior batsmen Younis and Misbah did a commendable job to keep Pakistan in the hunt. Pakistan are 132 for 3 in 49 overs as they trail by 91 runs.
Pakistan trail by 99 ruuns as the partnership between Misbah and Younis crosses 100. Misbah on 40. Pak 124-3 in 45 overs.
Pakistan are 114 for 3 in 40 overs.
Timely knock from Younis Khan. Scores a superb half century and also shares a 87-run stand with Misbah. Pak 106-3 in 37 overs.
Pakistan trail by 121 runs. Misbah and Younis are looking good for Pakistan as they put on a crucial partnership. Pak 102-3 in 35 overs.
Younis is on 45, while Misbah on 33. The partnership reaches 76. Pak 95-3 in 32 overs.
It could have been a disaster for Pakistan after Misbah just managed to survive a run-out. However, he is still lucky to be there batting on 27 and Younis Khan on 41 as Pakistan made 85 for 3 at tea.
The duo shared a partnership of 66 runs.
The partnership reaches 63 as Pakistan trail by 142 runs. Pak 81-3 in 26 overs.
Younis Khan on 31 while Misbah batting on 9. A steady partnership building here. Pak 57-3 in 20 overs
Pakistan cross 50. Both Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq using their experience to revive Pakistan. Pak 53-3 in 17 overs.
Pakistan are 24-2 in 10 overs. Two senior players in the middle and a lot of pressure on them.
Nothing going right for Pakistan as they lose another wicket. Khurram Manzoor who had done well in the first innings is walking back. Pradeep gets his second. Pak 19-3 in 7.5 overs.
Khurram Manzoor c P Jayawardene b Pradeep 6 (22b 1x4 0x6)
Pakistan in trouble here. Lose their second wicket immediately after lunch. Good bowling from Pradeep. Pak 12-2 in 3.3 overs.
Mohammad Hafeez c P Jayawardene b Pradeep 1 (4b 0x4 0x6)
Sri Lanka strike just before lunch. That's what they were looking for as Ahmed Shehzad has to walk back with Herath striking. Pak 11-1 in 2.5 overs.
Ahmed Shehzad c P Jayawardene b Herath 9 (7b 2x4 0x6)
Khurram Manzoor and Ahmed Shehzad open as Suranga Lakmal bowls for Lanka. Pak 2-0 in 1 over.
SRI LANKA INNINGS
Mahela Jayawardene fell at 129 while Angelo Mathews hit a gritty 42 as Sri Lanka scored 388 in 134 overs. Lanka have a fine lead of 223 runs.
For Pakistan, Junaid Khan took three wickets, while Rahat Ali and Saeed Ajmal bagged two each.
That's it, Sri Lanka lose the final wicket as they take a lead of 223 in the first innings.
N Pradeep lbw b Saeed Ajmal 3 (23b 0x4 0x6)
Sri Lanka lose another. Pakistan just need another to wrap up the innings. SL 377-9 in 127 overs.
R Eranga b Bilawal Bhatti 14 (30b 3x4 0x6)
Sri Lanka's lead is 205. Pakistan batsmen will have to put all the hard work if they were to make a contest of this Test. SL 370-8 in 125 overs.
Big wicket for Pakistan as Mahela Jayawardene departs. Attempts a reverse sweep and misses. That's the first one for Ajmal. SL 365-8 in 123.3 overs.
M Jayawardene b Saeed Ajmal 129 (279b 15x4 0x6)
Sri Lanka have a lead of 187 runs with Jayawardene batting on 120. SL 352-7 in 120 overs.
Herath is gone. Totally uncalled for at this stage as Herath is run out. SL 348-7 in 117.2 overs.
R Herath run out 6 (4b 1x4 0x6)
That's the third wicket for Junaid Khan. Pakistan will look to finish off Sri Lanka's lower order quickly. SL 341-6 in 116.3 overs
P Jayawardene b Junaid Khan 9 (31b 1x4 0x6)
Runs not coming consistently. Great job from the Pakistan bowlers. SL 335-5 in 115 overs.
Pakistan go for a review after Junaid's loud appeal against Jayawardene was turned down. Pakistan lose another review as the ball was pitching outside the stumps. Pak 322-5 in 109 overs.
Pakistan get early success on day three. A beauty from Rahat Ali takes Mathews edge. It's a good start for Pakistan. Pak 320-5 in 107.2 overs.
A Mathews c Sarfraz Ahmed b Rahat Ali 42 (88b 5x4 0x6)
Sri Lanka will look for putting on a strong lead on the day three of the second Test. Mahela Jayawardene and Angelo Mathews are in the middle having already shared a 90-run partnership.