Pallekele, Sri Lanka (AP): A fighting half-century by wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed helped Pakistan to 209-9 in their first innings at stumps on day two of the third test against Sri Lanka on Saturday.
Pakistan still trails by 69 runs in reply to Sri Lanka's first-innings 278 after the hosts resumed the day on 272-8.
It was Azhar Ali's half-century that held Pakistan's innings together earlier on and, after his dismissal for 52, Sarfraz fought back with the tailenders.
Pakistan was 152-7 at one stage but Sarfraz, with an unbeaten 72, ensured Sri Lanka didn't end up with a significant lead.
Sarfraz reached his half-century off just 57 balls. He has made big runs against Sri Lanka, including six of his seven test half-centuries.
After quickly dismissing Sri Lanka, Pakistan lost their openers with the total on 40 and then Younis Khan (3) was run out in the last ball before lunch.
Asad Shafiq batted ahead of captain Misbah-ul-Haq who was nursing a groin strain and added 46 runs for the fourth wicket with Azhar.
Dhammika Prasad provided the breakthrough when he trapped Shafiq leg before wicket for 15.
Sarfraz too was moved ahead of Misbah and added 44 runs for the fifth wicket with Azhar. Nuwan Pradeep, who showed excellent control, broke the stand when he got Azhar to nick a delivery to Dimuth Karunaratne at slip.
Misbah, batting at No. 7, was also dismissed by Pradeep and when Eshan Adil fell for a first ball duck, Pakistan was in trouble at 152-7.
Sarfraz then added 45 runs for the eighth wicket with Yasir Shah. Dhammika Prasad dismissed Yasir for 18 to claim his 50th test wicket.
Yasir's biggest impact came at the start of the day when Sri Lanka were batting. Pakistan's legspinner finished with 5-78, becoming the second overseas bowler after Shane Warne to pick up three five-wicket hauls in Sri Lanka.
Yasir now has 22 wickets in the series, the most by a Pakistan bowler in a series against Sri Lanka.
The day's play was interrupted three times due to rain and bad light and altogether 21 overs were lost.
Pakistan won the first test in Galle by 10 wickets before Sri Lanka leveled the three-match series with a seven-wicket victory in Colombo. Sri Lanka have won their last three home test series against Pakistan.