Paceman Junaid Khan grabbed five wickets and Bilawal Bhatti finished with three as Pakistan enjoyed the better of the opening day of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
Junaid claimed his fourth five-wicket haul, taking figures of 5-58, while Bhatti took 3-65 in his first Test as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 204 after Misbah-ul-Haq won the toss and opted to bowl first on a greenish Sheikh Zayed Stadium pitch.
By the close on the opening day Pakistan reached 46-1 with debutant opener Ahmed Shehzad not out on 25. Fellow opener Khurram Manzoor ran himself out after making 21, leaving Pakistan trailing by 158 runs but with nine first-innings wickets remaining.
Amidst the collapse in the Sri Lankan innings, skipper Angelo Mathews stood out, defying the Pakistan attack for 160 minutes for his 91.
He added an invaluable 61 for the ninth wicket with Shaminda Eranga (14) to lift Sri Lanka from a precarious 124-8.
Mathews hit 15 boundaries during his fighting knock, improving on his previous best of 64 not out against Pakistan at Colombo in 2009 before he was the last man out, stumped off Saeed Ajmal, who finished with 2-32.
Junaid said the pitch needed bowlers to keep line and length.
"It's a good pitch and if you bowl line and length then you get success," said Junaid, who now has 47 wickets in his 14 Tests.
"I have improved a lot after getting good tips from legends like Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and our bowling coach Mohammad Akram."
Misbah-ul-Haq's decision to field first had looked unwise as Sri Lankan openers Dimuth Karunaratne (38) and Kaushal Silva (20) gave their team a sound start, putting on 57 for the first wicket.
But, from 66-1, Sri Lanka lost seven wickets for the addition of 101 runs in the afternoon session.
Bhatti, making his Test debut, took three wickets off just eight balls after lunch.
He had Silva caught at slip off the fourth ball after the resumption and then had the experienced Mahela Jayawardene (5) caught behind in his next over.
A ball earlier, Jayawardene had been caught behind only to see the umpire call it a no-ball.
Two balls later, Bhatti had Dinesh Chandimal caught in the slip by Mohammad Hafeez for a duck to leave Sri Lanka struggling at 76-4.
It was left to Junaid to do the rest.
The left-armer dismissed Sri Lanka's most reliable batsman, Kumar Sangakkara, caught off an uppish drive at point for 16, and had both Prasanna Jayawardene (5) and Sachitra Senanayake (5) caught behind.
He then bowled Rangana Herath for a duck to complete his fourth five-wicket haul -- all four have come against Sri Lanka.
It was a different story in the first session, however.
Karunaratne hit three boundaries in the first three overs, and five in all, before he miscued a drive off Junaid and was smartly snapped up at gully by Asad Shafiq.
Pakistan strove hard for wickets in the first hour and wasted one review when they appealed for a catch behind against Silva off Junaid. Replays showed the batsman had not touched the ball.
Pakistan also gave a Test debut to Shehzad after he had played 40 one-day internationals in the last four years, while spinner Senanayake was given his Test debut for Sri Lanka.
The second Test will be played in Dubai (January 8-12) and the third in Sharjah (January 16-20).