Pakistan moved to 266/4 by stumps on day three of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi still trailing by 153 runs.
Azhar Ali (74*) stood tall but the team's slow progress leaves them needing a special effort to force a result.
Pakistan scored just 202 runs in the day having resumed on 64 without loss on Saturday morning.
Sri Lanka kept things tight but struggled to gain any penetration in the face of some determined resistance from Pakistan.
Pakistan scored at less than two runs per over in the morning session with Sri Lanka looking to frustrate Sarfaraz Ahmed's men.
Openers Shan Masood and Sami Aslam (51) moved their stand to 114 before they were separated when Dilruwan Perera trapped the latter leg before.
That brought Azhar to the wicket and he would not be moved despite losing Masood (59) not long after he came out.
Asad Shafiq (39) and Babar Azam (28) did a good job of occupying the crease though they struggled to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
The stumping of Babar brought the day to a close with Sri Lanka hoping they will be able to knock Pakistan over quickly having already spent over 110 overs in the field.
Azhar became the eighth Pakistan batsman to reach 5000 Test runs taking 115 innings to surpass the milestone making him the fourth fastest of those eight.
Rangana Herath ended the day with figures of 2/47 to be the pick of the bowlers.