Micky Arthur, the Pakistan coach, said Sri Lanka had proven they should not be underestimated after they made a battling start to the first Test in Abu Dhabi.
The Sri Lankans were broadly written off before for this series in the UAE, following poor form, as well as recent changes to captain, coach, and personnel.
The doubters looked certain to be proven correct when they lapsed to 61-3 in the face of probing bowling by Yasir Shah and Hassan Ali in the first session at Zayed Cricket Stadium.
But resourceful batting by Dimuth Karunaratne, who made 93, and an unbroken half-century stand between Dinesh Chandimal and Niroshan Dickwella, left the away side well placed by the close.
“I was very impressed, and we knew that was what we were going to get,” Arthur said. “Sri Lanka have come here with a hell of a lot to prove. They are a bunch of very talented cricketers.
“We are certainly not taking them lightly. We have a massive amount of respect for the way they play the game and their talent.
“They got out there and showed it. They played very, very well.”
Sri Lanka might have been even better placed, had a mix up between Karunaratne and Chandimal not cost the opener his chance of a century.
“It is part of the game, those things happen when you play cricket,” Karunaratne said. “I can’t say it was his fault, maybe it was mine as well. Already we have forgotten about it, we are trying to move forward, not thinking about that.”
Day 1 analysis: Sarfraz proves he will be his own man
Karunaratne said a score of 350 to 400 would put the Sri Lankans in good stead.
Arthur, by contrast, believes Pakistan are still in a position to strike, despite not making maximum use of either new ball.
The coach said the pitch had not had as thick a grass covering as he had hoped, to assist the home side’s three seam bowlers. He was pleased, though, the run rate was restricted to 2.5 an over.
“I think we went about it well, as on wickets like this you can over attack,” Arthur said.
“There was enough there for Yasir to attack with, and we did that. Yasir’s role is normally to hold for us in the first innings. Today he became that striker.
“We were OK, and we have controlled the rate, so if we go bang, bang tomorrow morning, we can bowl them out for under 300, which would be a good return for us.”
Both sides are attempting to navigate their way through a period of transition, since the retirements of noted senior players.
While Sri Lanka have had two years to get to terms with the departures of the likes of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, Pakistan were experiencing a day without Younis Khan or Misbah-ul-Haq for the first time in seven years.
“When you walk into our dressing room there are a lot of games and runs taken out of it,” Arthur said.
“It is time for these guys to carve their own niche now. They are really looking forward to doing that. They have gone about their preparation and Day 1 of a Test match without the two legends fairly well.
“These guys are looking forward to creating their own legacies now going forward.
“It is going to take some time, but I am confident we are going to make that transition fairly easily.”