Pakistan fast bowlers Junaid Khan and Bilawal Bhatti scythed through Sri Lanka's batting order during an exciting afternoon session, to restrict their opponents to 204 on the first day of the opening Test in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
Left-armer Junaid grabbed his fourth five-wicket haul, all against the same opponents, and debutant Bhatti claimed three victims as Sri Lanka wasted a solid start after being put into bat.
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews made a valiant 91 and was the last batsman to fall as he became off-spinner Saeed Ajmal's second victim of the innings.
Pakistan, who play their home matches in the United Arab Emirates due to security concerns in their own country, reached 46 for the loss of Khurram Manzoor (21) at stumps, trailing Sri Lanka by 158.
Manzoor's run-out after a misunderstanding with debutant Ahmed Shehzad (25 not out) was the last ball before stumps.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq's decision to field first on a pitch that had a greenish tinge to it looked wrong as Sri Lanka added 57 runs for the opening stand.
Dimuth Karunaratne (38) was Pakistan's only victim during the morning session, after the left-hander fell to a sharp catch at gully by Asad Shafiq off Junaid.
But it was Bhatti's spell immediately after lunch that really hurt Sri Lanka. The 22-year-old right-armer sent back Kaushal Silva (20) in the first over in the second session and accounted for Mahela Jayawardene (five) and Dinesh Chandimal (nought) in his next to leave Sri Lanka tottering at 76-4.
Jayawardene edged Bhatti to wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal but got a reprieve as the delivery was adjudged a no-ball by the television umpire.
He was, however, not so lucky on the next delivery, as Bhatti once again found his edge for Akmal to complete the catch.
Junaid then got in on the act with the wickets of Kumar Sangakkara (16) and wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene (five) in quick succession.
The 24-year-old bowler also dismissed debutant off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake and his senior slow-bowling partner Rangana Herath off consecutive deliveries to complete his five-wicket, haul as Sri Lanka were reduced to 124-8.
Mathews staged a lone fightback, adding 61 runs for the ninth wicket with Shaminda Eranga (14) in an innings studded with 15 powerful boundaries, as Sri Lanka crawled past the 200-run mark.