Sangakkara praises Pakistan's bowlers

Kumar Sangakkara walks off at stumps on the fourth day AFP

Kumar Sangakkara has said that Pakistan's attack bowled "exceptionally well" on a day when only he stood between Sri Lanka and defeat in the first Test in Abu Dhabi. Sangakkara batted through the fourth day to score 161, whittling the deficit from 267 to 16, as Sri Lanka finished on 298 for 5. Pakistan would have taken several more wickets, though, had their fielders not dropped five catches.

"Pakistan bowled exceptionally well, they used the new ball well. The spinners came on and they also continued to keep the pressure up and that doesn't help," Sangakkara said. "It's a new attack, they got two seniors in [Saeed] Ajmal and [Umar] Gul but it's heartening to see two young bowlers come in.

"Junaid [Khan] used his angles well and used his pace variations well. He bowled in the right areas and that has been a challenge. We have not yet been able to overcome that challenge, but we should do it."

Sangakkara added 153 runs for the second wicket with Lahiru Thirimanne but then watched wickets fall at regular intervals as Sri Lanka lost four batsmen for 80 runs. Sangakkara was also let off twice, off Junaid and Mohammad Hafeez's bowling, and he made his good fortune count by scoring his 26th Test century and his 11th second-innings hundred.

"It would have been nice if I had I got it in the first innings but it was a tough fight and one of my better hundreds," he said. "But there is still work left and if we can get through the first session, we can put some pressure on Pakistan.

"Hundred or 150 [more] would be fantastic, that will also take time away. Let's see tomorrow, first we have to get the morning session out [of the way]. We have to first come out and fight again."

Pakistan opener Taufeeq Umar had ground out a double-century and batted for more than 12 hours in energy-sapping conditions. Sangakkara, however, said the fourth day had not been as bad.

"It was pretty alright, the weather was much cooler than the first day, the breeze helped you keep cool and wicket was flat, so I was just making sure we made few mistakes," he said. "I feel fantastic and great, once you bat and do the hard work it's great and there is more to be done."