Dubai, October 10: Mohammad Abbas took three quick wickets in a devastating burst to put Pakistan on course to win the first Test in Dubai, but Usman Khawaja's unbeaten half-century gave Australia hope on day four.
Abbas (3-26) struck three times without conceding a run after Pakistan declared on 181/6, Imam-ul-Haq top-scoring with 48 as the tourists were set a highly unlikely 462 to win.
Khawaja and Aaron Finch combined for a century stand in the first innings before an almighty collapse left Australia deep in the mire and there was a sense of deja vu on Wednesday.
The openers put on 87 in a positive partnership, but Abbas – who took 4/29 when Australia folded on day three – dismissed Finch (49) before removing brothers Shaun and Mitchell Marsh without scoring.
Khawaja (50 not out) and debutant Travis Head (34no) saw Australia through to 136/3 at stumps, needing a heroic final-day rearguard effort to avoid falling behind in the two-match series.
Australia were in desperate need of early wickets on the penultimate day, but Haris Sohail and Imam added 65 for the fourth wicket after Pakistan resumed on 45/3.
Sohail used his feet superbly to come down the track and hit Jon Holland (3-83) for a couple of sixes and Imam ticked along patiently to keep the lead building.
Holland got the breakthrough when Imam gave him the charge but offered a simple caught and bowled, then Marnus Labuschagne snared Haris lbw in the next over to leave Pakistan 110/5.
Asad Shafiq (41) and Babar Azam (28 not out) added 71 as the Australia bowlers toiled in the heat before the former was taken by Mitchell Marsh with a big heave off Nathan Lyon (2-58), who moved level with Brett Lee's tally of 310 Test wickets.
That prompted the declaration from Sarfraz Ahmed, who gave off spinner Mohammad Hafeez the new ball along with Abbas, but soon turn to Yasir Shah.
Yasir and Bilal Asif, who took six wickets on debut in the first innings, were unable to get the breakthrough as Khawaja and Finch played with assurance, putting away stray deliveries and displaying stoic defence.
From 72 without loss at tea, Australia soon found themselves in trouble when Abbas came struck three times in the space of seven balls, Finch trudging off after unsuccessfully reviewing an lbw decision.
Shaun Marsh was caught behind nibbling at one that nipped away, and his younger brother also fell for a duck, Abbas celebrating another lbw verdict following a review after the ball struck pad before bat.
Khawaja had a slice of luck when he flashed at a delivery from Haris and Shafiq failed to hold on to a difficult one-handed chance at a wide first slip, before the left-hander brought up a second hard-earned half-century of the match, with support from Head.