Sri Lanka, seeking a series-levelling win after losing the second Test by nine wickets in Dubai, removed Mohammad Hafeez (six) and Taufiq Umar (19) as Pakistan closed on 35-2 in reply to their rivals’ first innings total of 413.
The first Test in Abu Dhabi ended as a draw.
Pakistan looked shaky from the start as Hafeez was dismissed in the fifth over of the innings, edging an outgoing delivery from left-arm paceman Chanaka Welegedara to slip for Mahela Jayawardene to take a simple catch.
Left-arm spinner Rangana then struck in his third over, inducing Umar to come out of the crease and had him stumped by wicket-keeper Kaushal Silva, much to the disappointment of a holiday crowd of near 8,000 made up of Pakistan expats.
At close, Azhar was unbeaten on ten and Younis Khan yet to get off the mark, as Pakistan still trail by 378 runs.
Earlier, Saeed Ajmal led Pakistan’s fightback with 4-132 after Sri Lanka, well placed at 300-3, lost five wickets in the space of 59 runs before they were guided past 400 by a ninth wicket stand of 54 between Silva (39) and Herath 34 not out.
Umar Gul ably supported Ajmal with 3-76, but late additions to the Sri Lankan total frustrated Pakistan who had the upper hand in the first two sessions.
Pakistan knew they had to remove Sangakkara to make inroads into the Sri Lankan middle-order after they dismissed Angelo Mathews for 17 in the last over before lunch, caught behind off left-arm spinner Abdul Rehman.
It was Ajmal who finally provided Pakistan with the prized wicket of the stylish left-hander when his delivery jumped on Sangakkara, who failed to keep a pull down and was caught in the slip by Younis Khan after making 144.
Sangakkara hit 13 fours and two sixes during his 344-ball knock, which began in the first over of the match on Thursday. This was his second century of the series following an epic match-saving 211 in Abu Dhabi.
Sangakkara put on 84 for the third wicket with Jayawardene (39) and another 39 with Mathews for the fourth after Sri Lanka resumed at 245-2.
Jayawardene managed to add just seven to his overnight score of 32 before being given leg-before off paceman Khan. Jayawardene hit two boundaries during his highest score of the series.
Sangakkara and Mathews negotiated Pakistan’s pace-spin attack with confidence, taking Sri Lanka past the 300-mark in the penultimate over before lunch.
But Pakistan struck in the last over before lunch as they got the second wicket in the session, with Sri Lanka managing 55 runs in two hours.
Ajmal also dismissed debutant Kosala Kulasekara, leg-before wicket for 15, while Gul struck to remove Suraj Randiv for one.
Ajmal finally broke the ninth wicket stand by dismissing Silva, while Gul wrapped up the innings when he bowled Welegedara for nought.