Rawalpindi: India's vice-captain Rahul Dravid survived two close calls to keep his team on course for a big first innings lead in the third and final Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi.
Dravid remained unbeaten on 84 as the tourists, replying to Pakistan's modest total of 224, took their lunch score of 119 for one to 203 for three by tea on the second day on Wednesday.
India now need just 22 runs to take the lead with seven wickets in hand in the decisive Test, with the series tied at 1-1.
Venkatsai Laxman was the other not out batsman at tea on 36, having added an unbroken 73 for the fourth wicket with Dravid after Pakistan had rocked India with two wickets in the space of seven balls soon after lunch.
Parthiv Patel, who made a career-best 69 during a second-wicket stand of 129 with Dravid, was caught behind by wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal off seamer Fazle Akbar.
In the next over, Sachin Tendulkar (one) edged a snorter from Shoaib Akhtar to Akmal as India slipped from 129 for one to 130 for three.
Tendulkar, who hit an unbeaten 194 in the first Test at Multan, has managed just 11 runs in his next three innings.
Dravid, however, was lucky still to have his sights set on a 17th Test hundred. When on 71, Yasir Hameed put down a simple catch at point off the bowling of Mohammad Sami as Dravid tried to cut a short ball.
Six runs later, third umpire Zamir Haider of Pakistan gave Dravid the benefit of the doubt when asked to adjudicate by umpires Rudi Koertzen and David Shepherd on a close bat-pad catch off Danish Kaneria.
Patel and Dravid, who had come to the crease late on Tuesday when Virender Sehwag was dismissed off the first ball of the innings, batted through the morning session on the second day.
The pair saw off the Pakistani fast bowlers on a wicket that played more easily than on the opening day, when it afforded considerable help to the Indian seamers.
Patel was given the task of opening the innings for only the second time in a Test match after captain Sourav Ganguly made a late decision to keep himself and Yuvraj Singh in the middle order. The young man responded well, holding the fort for more than three hours to register his third Test half-century.
Patel reached his 50 by steering Akbar for his ninth boundary and then surpassed his previous best of 62 with a 10th four, an exquisite cover drive off Sami, before coming unstuck on 69.
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.