One of his five wickets in Pakistan's first innings was of Azhar Ali's: his favourite batsman to dismiss of late.
Leg-spinner Yasir Shah grabbed the key wicket of Dinesh Chandimal to leave visitors fighting to avoid defeat on Sunday.
Yasir was the pick of the bowlers with five wickets, while Abbas snapped up two and Hasan Ali, Asad Shafiq and debutant Haris Sohail chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Pakistan were hoping to take some quick wickets after ending their partnership.
It was an innings of ultimate patience and extreme concentration levels as the 28-year old skipper put Sri Lanka in the driving seat.
Pakistan, playing a Test match for the first time since Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan retired, had their opponents struggling at 61 for three at lunch. We were surprised, but we thought before play started today that 160-plus would be a winning total. He bowled a magnificent spell that guided Sri Lanka to the narrow win.
"I'm on the groundsman's case", Du Plessis said yesterday after South Africa bowled out Bangladesh for 90 to complete a crushing 333-run win on the fifth and final day of the first Test at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom.
Pakistan still trail the Sri Lankan first innings total of 419 by 153 runs with six wickets intact. Credit goes to people like Dickwella and Karunaratne.
Pakistan made a steady start in reply though, Shan Masood (30no) and Sami Aslam (31no) batting through the final 23 overs of the day to guide their side to 64-0 at stumps.
"[Niroshan] Dickwella was outstanding in the second innings to get us to the 140 mark. But obviously on the last day he was always going to be a factor and you have got to give him more respect but I would probably have liked to see our batsmen take him on". "There was something for the spinners so I got this success", he said.
Asked how long he would like Herath to play in his side, given he is nearing 40, Chandimal made a little wish.
"We knew once we got that much, we have our legend (Herath) here".
"They played some really good cricket and I'm sure this can continue throughout the series".