Kumar Sangakkara struck his 27th Test century to reignite Sri Lanka's hopes of levelling the series on day one of the third Test against Pakistan.
The elegant left-hander marked the return of Test cricket at the Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium for the first time in almost a decade with an unbeaten knock of 112 as Sri Lanka, trailing 1-0 in the three-match series, reached stumps well-set on 245-2.
Former captain Sangakkara teamed up with successor Tillakaratne Dilshan for an invaluable 173-run partnership after opener Tharanga Paranavitana had been dismissed by Umar Gul (1-43) off the fifth delivery of the match.
Dilshan struck 12 boundaries and one towering six, but fell eight runs short of a deserved century when he edged a Saeed Ajmal doosra to Younis Khan at slip.
On a day which saw three of Pakistan's star players handed jail sentences in England, the current side attempted to restore some pride as Test cricket returned to Sharjah.
Pakistan started full of purpose with in-form paceman Gul finding plenty of movement off the pitch early on and removing Paranavitana with his fifth delivery, Younis holding well at second slip.
Yet any thoughts of a successful session for the Pakistan attack were swiftly knocked back as Sangakkara and Dilshan played themselves in.
The former eased past 9,000 Test runs - only the 11th man to do so - when he reached 28 with a four, one of 11 in a 263-ball knock.
Dilshan scored at a brisker rate with his 92 coming off 168 deliveries before he fell to a smart piece of bowling from Ajmal (1-71).
Sangakkara, in partnership with fellow stalwart Mahela Jayawardene, carried on undeterred and reached his 27th three-figure score with a huge six off Abdur Rehman (0-62).
Jayawardene was poised on 32 before bad light brought a premature end to the opening day.