Pakistan lost three late wickets to lose ground on Sri Lanka after day three of the third Test in Sharjah, falling to 291 for six in Dubai, 137 runs behind.
Batting all day, the hosts built steadily, with Ahmed Shehzad the star of the day with an innings of 147.
It was his first Test ton, and a fine effort, coming from 275 deliveries.
He had some assistance, however, with opening partner Khurram Manzoor adding 52, and captain Misbah-ul-Haq reaching 36 not out by stumps.
|Pakistan 1st Innings||SL 428-9 dec.|
|Manzoor||c P Jayawardene||b Eranga||52||189||125|
|Azhar Ali||c Mathews||b Perera||8||41||27|
|Y Khan||c P Jayawardene||b Herath||17||49||31|
|Sarfraz Ahmed||c P Jayawardene||b Herath||5||14||7|
|Extras||1nb 0w 1b 6lb||8|
|Total||for 6||291||(95.3 ovs)|
Once again, however, it will be up to the captain to marshall the tail. Shehzad's dismissal with 245 on the board suddenly allowed Sri Lanka in, and Shaminda Eranga and Rangana Herath struck to weaken the hosts' position.
Most successful Pakistani Test batsmen J Miandad 52.57 Md Yousuf 52.29 Younus Khan 51.53* Inzamam-ul-Haq 50.16 Misbah-ul-Haq 48.04* #PakvSL— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) January 18, 2014
They have to win this Test in order to draw the series, and their best hope after Sri Lanka's ponderous first innings is to build an advantage batting just once, and then shoot the tourists out cheaply in the second innings.
That looks a remote hope now, with Pakistan's tail having appeared brittle all series long.
Herath was the pick of the bowlers on a sedate day of cricket, biding his time and taking three wickets, while Eranga's late burst of pace gave him two scalps.