Kuruppuarachchi, a left-arm medium-fast bowler and one of three new caps, gave Sri Lanka the start they needed when he dismissed Mudassar with his third ball in Test cricket; and De Mel backed up Mendis's decision to insert Pakistan on a green pitch with two wickets to make the touring side 12 for three. By the end of the day Pakistan were all out for 132, the lowest Test score against Sri Lanka, the last five wickets having fallen for 8 runs in 30 balls. Sri Lanka were 21 without loss and batted throughout the second day to the security of 248 for six. Ranatunga, 69 not out overnight, went on to reach 1,000 Test runs the next morning, and his innings of 305 minutes (175 balls) was the foundation of Sri Lanka's lead of 141 with more than two and a half days remaining.
Pakistan again lost wickets quickly at the start, and although Omar for a time threatened to swing the game away from Sri Lanka with a half-century in 50 balls (eight 4s), Pakistan went into the rest day only 13 runs ahead with one wicket in hand. With the weather holding, Sri Lanka achieved their second victory in Test cricket before lunch on the fourth day.
Two controversial incidents, in addition to disputed decisions, marred the third day. The replacement of a damaged ball after sixteen overs of Pakistan's second innings produced an objection for the batsmen when an umpire began rubbing the new ball on the ground to effect a similar amount of wear. They reported the matter to the Pakistan manager, who came on to the field of play with a 1985 Wisden to show the relevant Law to the umpires. Later Miandad, angered by the lbw decision which dismissed him and riled by the jeering of the crowd, mounted the stairs of the pavilion in search of a spectator who had thrown a stone at him.