Pakistan choked Sri Lanka's progress in the last session of the opening day of the Karachi Test to stage a late comeback after being bundled out for just 191 in their first innings.
Mohammad Abbas and Shaheen Afridi shared three wickets between them to stall the tourists' charge, leaving them at a tender 64-3 by the close of play.
Veteran batsman Angelo Mathews and nightwatchman Lasith Embuldeniya, chief architect of Pakistan's first-innings collapse, were the batters present at the crease at the end of day one.
Sri Lanka are, nevertheless, mildly ahead of the hosts in the intriguing battle that saw bowlers dominate proceedings on what was expected to be a flat and slow surface.
Lahiru Kumara's express pace and Embuldeniya's crafty left-arm off-spin proved to be too daunting a task for Pakistan to handle as the batsmen found tame ways to walk back to the pavilion.
A steady 62-run stand between Babar Azam and Asad Shafiq seemed to have repaired the early damage inflicted on the home side but the departure of Azam was followed by a flurry of wickets.
Azam was shaping well after bringing up the 13th half-century of his career, frequently caressing the ball through the gaps to feast on loose deliveries.
He racked up 60 runs in 96 balls with the help of eight boundaries and a solitary maximum before being undone by a sharply turning delivery whizzing past his outside edge from Embuldeniya.
Azam had skipped down the track just in time for the wily spinner to draw the batsman into a faulty block shot while the wicketkeeper calmly collected the ball and removed the bails to leave him stranded outside the crease.
Kumara then pinged the off-stump of Mohammad Rizwan and on the very next ball, darted in a rapid in-swinger that hit Yasir Shah flush on the pad.
Soon after, Shafiq's patient vigil in the middle was cut short while trying to hook a rising short delivery aimed at his ribs.
Embuldeniya accounted for the last batsman to fall when Shaheen tried to launch a fuller ball out of the park but only managed to sky it towards the running mid-off, who completed a superb catch.
Pakistan lost their last six wickets for just 24 runs in their paltry total of 191, though in the grander scheme of things it could possibly be a match-winning score.
Kumara's new-ball partner Vishwa Fernando initially wreaked havoc on the Pakistani batters, causing them to reconsider the decision to bat first following the coin-toss.
The 28-year-old first removed Shan Masood for five and later dismissed skipper Azhar Ali for nought.
Azhar's lean run in the longer format continues to persist as he has now gone 13 innings without a fifty while a majority of his contributions have been single-digit scores.
Although Pakistan have not yet introduced premier spinner Yasir into the attack, they will be mighty pleased with the efforts of their seamers upfront.
Shaheen provided his team with a breakthrough when a smart use of the DRS helped them see the back of Oshada Fernando to the dressing room.
Abbas delivered two more key strikes, rattling the opposition with his nibbling line off the deck.