Abu Dhabi: Pakistan were left with a battle to avoid conceding England a series-levelling win after Monty Panesar proved threatening with three wickets in the second Test on Friday.
After Panesar had taken 3-44, it was left to Azhar Ali (46) and Asad Shafiq (35) to put on a 71-run stand for the fifth wicket to lift Pakistan to 125-4 at the close on the third day on a weary Abu Dhabi Stadium pitch.
Ali joined Shafiq with Pakistan reeling at 54-4, as Panesar dismissed Mohammad Hafeez (22), Younis Khan (one) and Misbah-ul Haq (12) in his sustained 20-over spell on either side of the tea interval.
But both youngsters helped Pakistan erase the 70-run lead and promised to steer their team around the trouble on a spin-assisted pitch on Saturday. Pakistan lead by 55 runs with six wickets intact.
Pakistan will look to their remaining batsmen to help produce a formidable target for England to maintain their chances in the series, which they lead by 1-0 on account of a ten-wicket win in the first Test at Dubai.
Stuart Broad gave England a crucial 70-run lead with an unbeaten 58 which took England to 327 in the morning session.
Both Ali and Shafiq defied England's mixed pace and spin attack in the last session much to the delight of a near 5,000 holiday crowd. Ali has so far hit seven boundaries to Shafiq's three.
As expected, Panesar came on to bowl as early as the sixth over and struck in his fourth when he spun across Hafeez's bat to hit him on the knees, right in front of the stumps.
Panesar's spin partner Graeme Swann made it 29-2 when he beat Umar's forward push with a delivery that came straight with the arm. Umar made seven.
It became 36-3 when Panesar spun one across Younis's bat and hit the off-stump, and Pensar struck again in the second over after resumption, catching Misbah in front of the wicket for 12.
The Pakistani skipper's challenge against Australian umpire Bruce Oxenford's decision proved unsuccessful.
Ali said a 150-160 target would be fighting.
"It was nice to build a partnership and if we take the target to 150 it would be great. I prayed that Shafiq didn't lose his wicket when Kevin Pietersen failed to run him out," said Ali of his partner's survival on 26.
Broad said England were still in a "decent position".
"The first hour (on Saturday) will be crucial as after 19 overs we can take the second new ball," Broad said.
Earlier, Broad added an invaluable 41 for the seventh wicket with Ian Bell (29) and 36 for the ninth wicket with James Anderson (13) to boost England after they resumed at 207-5, 50 runs behind on Pakistan's first innings total.
Pakistan fared poorly in the field as Matt Prior was dropped on two by Junaid Khan in just the second over of the day, while Bell was let off on nine by Abdul Rehman off his own bowling.
But Prior's lapse didn't prove costly as a threatening Saeed Ajmal trapped him leg-before in his next over for three.
Broad successfully attacked the bowling, hitting two boundaries each off Ajmal and then off Umar Gul – after Pakistan took the second new ball with the score at 250-6 --to take England past Pakistan's total.
Gul struck in his next over when he trapped Bell leg-before and Rehman accounted for Swann (15).
Broad hit six boundaries and a six off just 62-balls. Ajmal finished with 4-108, while Hafeez took three wickets.