More imagesRawalpindi: Tailenders Mohammed Sami and Fazl-e-Akbar rescued Pakistan after India's bowlers demolished the top order on the opening day of the third and decisive Test in Rawalpindi.
Laxmipathy Balaji grabbed a career-best 4-63 as Pakistan, sent to bat on a seaming wicket, slumped to 137 for eight before Sami and Akbar put on 70 for the ninth wicket to lift the hosts to 224 in their first innings on Tuesday.
India struggled to 23 for one in 15 overs by the close of an enthralling day's play after losing in-form Virender Sehwag to the first ball of the innings, fending a short ball from Shoaib Akhtar to Yasir Hameed at gully.
Young wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel, opening for only the second time in a Test match, returned unbeaten on 13. Vice-captain Rahul Dravid was on 10.
The archrivals are seeking to break the 1-1 deadlock in the series, their first on Pakistan soil since 1989.
India won the first Test at Multan by an innings and 52 runs and Pakistan drew level at Lahore last week with a nine-wicket triumph.
Ashish Nehra and Irfan Pathan chipped in with two wickets each as the Indian seamers revelled in helpful conditions after captain Sourav Ganguly won a crucial toss and had no hesitation in fielding first.
Pakistan lost four wickets in each of the first two sessions, before Sami and Akbar conjured their defiant stand as the Rawalpindi stadium wicket eased out under the hot sun.
The 70-run partnership equalled Pakistan's best for the ninth wicket against India - by Yousuf Youhana and Shoaib Akhtar in the first Test of the current series.
Sami, whose previous best in 14 Tests was 25, top-scored with 49 before he was run out by a direct throw from Irfan Pathan while attempting to get to his maiden half-century.
Akbar, making his first appearance in the series in place of the injured Umar Gul, hit 25.
Ganguly returned to lead India after missing the first two Tests with a back injury. Opener Aakash Chopra made way for the captain, while left-arm seamer Nehra replaced Ajit Agarkar.
Left-handed openers Imran Farhat and Taufiq Umar saw off the first 45 minutes to put on 34 on a wicket that afforded considerable seam movement to the Indian bowlers.
Both batsmen, however, fell leg-before in successive overs to reduce Pakistan to 34 for two.
Umar, who made nine, became Balaji's first victim, while Farhat (16) fell to Nehra.
Pakistan moved to 77 for two when India hit back again with two wickets in the space of eight deliveries.
Pathan made amends for a wayward first spell to force Hameed (26) to edge a catch to Venkatsai Laxman at second slip.
Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq, who made 15, survived a confident leg-before appeal off Nehra, before being caught behind off the next ball.
The hosts added 14 to their lunch score of 96 for four when Pathan struck a vital blow by bowling Yousuf Youhana for 13 off the inside edge of the bat.
Balaji then trapped Asim Kamal leg-before for 21, had Kamran Akmal caught by Laxman at second slip for 17 and clean bowled Akhtar two balls later.
It was left to spinner Anil Kumble to break the ninth-wicket stand after tea when he claimed Akbar leg-before. Extras Scorecard of Day 1 Balaji sends Pak reeling in Rawalpindi