Sri Lanka fought hard against Pakistani spinners led by Saeed Ajmal to reach 220-5 at close on the opening day of the third Test in Sharjah on Thursday.
Ajmal took 2-62 to leave Sri Lanka struggling at 166-5 before Angelo Mathews (24) and Prasanna Jayawardene (28) saw off the day with a 54-run unfinished stand on a spin-friendly Sharjah stadium pitch.
Pakistan had to rue a dropped catch by paceman Mohammad Talha when Mathews had not scored while a leg-before decision against Prasanna was turned down on referral -- two lapses which denied Pakistan the chance to take full control.
Pakistan took the second new ball after 87 overs with Sri Lanka on 206-5 but Mathews, who hit a career best 157 not out and alongwith Prasanna helped Sri Lanka to salvage a draw in the first Test in Abu Dhabi, batted sensibly.
Sri Lanka leads the three-match series 1-0 after winning the second match in Dubai by nine wickets. The first Test ended in a draw.
Pakistan grabbed the key wickets of Kumar Sangakkara (52) and Mahela Jayawardene (47) on either side of tea.