Dinesh Chandimal, the Sri Lanka captain, praised Dilruwan Perera after the off-spinner proved the unlikely star turn in .
Perera took 5-98 in the last innings, as Pakistan fell 68 runs short of the 317 they needed to square the two-Test series.
It took his haul for the series to 12 wickets. Much like his side as a whole, in marked a significant improvement on what had gone before it for Perera.
Sri Lanka were thrashed by India at home last time out. Perera took just two wickets in the three matches, and was barely trusted to bowl by the end.
However, Chandimal said he and the team management had faith Perera could be a key player against Pakistan, and they were rewarded for it at the end.
Analysis: Sri Lanka have Chandimal and Herath to thank for win
Day 1 report: Karunarante century sets up Sri Lanka in Dubai
Day 2 report: Pakistan's uphill task to keep UAE record in tact
Day 3 report: Wahab regains his groove in the second innings
Day 4 report: Shafiq's return to form gives Pakistan hope
“Dilruwan struggled with his bowling in the India series, but we spoke to him before this series, myself and the management, to try to give him confidence,” Chandimal said.
“We trust him and we back him as a No 7 all-rounder. He got that opportunity and he did well.”
Defeat was harsh on Asad Shafiq, who, for the second time in a matter of months, played a masterful turn in the final innings of a pink-ball, day-night Test.
As he did in Australia last winter, he scored a century, but again his side fell short in their run chase.
“My [previous] four or five innings were not up to the mark, but I was positive,” Shafiq said. “I was thinking positive. When I came to bat in this innings especially, I was thinking about attacking the ball.
“In conditions like this if you play maiden overs from this quality of bowlers, they will not give you easy runs. So that’s all that was on my mind, that I have to play positive cricket.”
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