Pakistan are counting on a change in format and players to overcome a resurgent Sri Lanka in the five-match one-day series starting in Dubai from Friday.
Sri Lanka won the toss and opted to put Pakistan in to bat in the first ODI in Dubai.
Of the top order only Lahiru Thirimanne (53) passed fifty for the tourists and his departure as the seventh Sri Lankan wicket saw whatever hopes they may have harboured dissipate.
Akila Dananjaya (50 not out) and Jeffrey Vandersay (25) delayed the result as they took Sri Lanka from 132-7 to 200-8 during their 68-run eighth-wicket stand but it was too little, too late.
Medium pacer Ali had two wickets off two balls as he dislodged Kusal Mendis and Milinda Siriwardana to leave Sri Lanka struggling at 67-5.
Sri Lanka opener Niroshan Dickwella predictably came out of the gate swinging but he lasted just 13 balls for his 19 before nicking off to Rumman Raees.
Pakistan, sent into bat, owed their total to Azam and Malik, who added 139 for the fourth wicket.
With Pakistan looking for some inspiration at 128/3 in 28 overs, Malik (81, 61 balls, 5 fours, 2 sixes) walked in to show he has lost none of his touch and power despite his advancing years.
"I always try to bat as per the requirement of the team and I am happy I did that today as well", said Malik.
But even Pakistan were in danger of losing their way in the middle overs of their own innings and it wasn't until Malik stepped onto the field that their fortunes changed.
Sri Lanka fast bowler Suranga Lakmal took 2-47.
Fakhar Zaman (43, 45 balls, 4 fours, 1 six), scorer of that magical hundred in Pakistan's Champions Trophy final win over India, was impressive once again.
The remaining matches of the series will be played in Abu Dhabi (October 16 and 18) and in Sharjah (October 20 and 23).