'We'll be pressing for victory'- Chandimal
Sri Lanka batsman Dinesh Chandimal has said that the team will be pressing hard for victory on a day-five pitch that is likely to be increasingly receptive to spin bowling. The visitors lost only one wicket for 234 runs on day four, suggesting the surface remained good for batting.
Offspinner Saeed Ajmal was unable to prize a wicket in 42 overs in the second innings, but Chandimal said that turn could be gleaned from one end of the Abu Dhabi pitch, and pinned the team's hopes on consolidating their lead, before unleashing their own spinners on Pakistan.
"It's not an easy pitch to bat on. The ball doesn't arrive in the same way every time. As a team we have about 240," Chandimal said. "Tomorrow we will see how we go in the first hour and then set a target for them. We've got plans for that. We'll fight hard and try to win it.
"It is spinning more from one end. Because of that, playing the spinners is getting harder - especially Saeed Ajmal. When he switched ends it became a bit easier for us. If the spinners had bowled from the other end, they might have been able to get something more out of it, so we will keep that in mind when we bowl. We'll use that advantage and fight. Maybe 300 plus will be a winning total, but first we have to ensure that we can't lose the match.
"Probably, the pitch is going to be slower tomorrow. Yesterday it had a lot of seam. Today the ball came a bit slower.Tomorrow also it will get slower."
Chandimal was out hooking for 89 in the second session, but he had shown considerable resolve and ability during a 138-run stand with Angelo Mathews, on which the match pivoted. Sri Lanka had a lead of seven with four wickets already lost in the morning, but ended the day 241 ahead, with five still in hand.
"I'm quite disappointed, because that 89 came in difficult circumstances for the team. When I went to bat, three wickets were down, and Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene were out," he said. "It was a really tough situation. But I came through that and in the last moment, getting out like that is disappointing.
"But as a team, it's really heartening to see where we have got to. In the morning they had the match in their hands, but by evening we had swung it our way.
"Angelo and I trusted that we'd be able to pull this game back for us. We batted really well in the first session. We talked then and though somehow, the two of us have to bat the next session as well. Unfortunately in the last hour of that session, I got out. But we supported each other very well and that showed."
Chandimal had hit two hundreds in his last two Tests in March, but followed that up with a woeful run in limited-overs cricket, going 19 ODIs without hitting a half-century. He regained his touch in the ODI that preceded the Tests, as he led the team to victory with an unbeaten fifty.
"I've always said sportsmen have bad patches. What we have to know is how to come out of those poor runs. I worked on a lot of things in the past months and now is the chance for me to get some benefit from that. As a cricketer I'm really happy with the way I played."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here