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Sri Lanka, sent into bat by Pakistan, were 167-8 at tea in their first innings on the opening day of the first Test in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
Skipper Angelo Mathews was unbeaten on 57 and Shaminda Eranga was 12 not out at tea after Pakistan opted to field on winning the toss.
Paceman Junaid Khan had figures of 5-51 while fellow fast bowler Bilawal Bhatti took 3-59 as Sri Lanka were derailed by some fine pace bowling after being 66-1 at lunch.
The three-Test series will also have matches in Dubai (January 8-12) and Sharjah (January 16-20).