KANDY, Sri Lanka, Apr 3 (Reuters) Kumar Sangakkara led a Sri Lanka fightback with a superb 79 on the first afternoon of the second and final test against Pakistan.
Sri Lanka had slumped to 61 for three after being put into bat on a wet pitch offering extravagant seam movement before recovering in the afternoon to finish on 175-4 at tea.
Sangakkara, Sri Lanka's star performer in the drawn first test with a brilliant 185, carried the attack to the Pakistan pace bowlers.
The left-hander, who faced just 98 balls and stroked 15 boundaries, added 81 in 137 balls with Thilan Samaraweera before being caught at bat-pad off leg spinner Daniesh Kaneria.
Samaraweera continued the fight afterwards with Tillakaratne Dilshan (19 not out), finishing with 44 not out at the break.
Fast bowler Mohammad Asif, Pakistan's best bowler in the first test in Colombo, had created Sri Lanka's early problems with a superb 12-over spell with the new ball.
The paceman bowled at a lively pace and moved the ball both ways off the seam on a pitch that spent much of the preceding week under covers due to the wet weather in the island's highlands.
Sri Lanka battled through the first half hour but then lost Upul Tharanga (10) who pushed and a wide delivery angled across him and edged into the slips.
Veteran Sanath Jayasuriya, playing his last test match, was then bowled by a peach of a delivery that nipped back off the seam enough to clip off-stump.
Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene lasted 42 minutes for his four runs, regularly playing and missing as the ball jagged off the seam.
But Asif struck again before the lunch break as Jayawardene edged low to second slip.
Pakistan suffered a blow before the start as opener Shoaib Malik, who helped save the first test with a marathon 148 not out, pulled out with a fever.
Experienced campaigner Mohammad Yousuf returned, having recovered from a hamstring strain.
Pace bowler Iftikhar Rao replaced leg spinning allrounder Shahid Afridi.
Sri Lanka dropped fast bowler Dilhara Fernando for Nuwan Kulasekera.
Reuters PDS BD1538