Anil Kumble led a disciplined spin attack to keep India's hopes alive in an evenly poised opening Test against Pakistan at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground here on Saturday.
The new captain dismissed the top three batsmen to restrict Pakistan to 212-5 in the second innings. The tourists are now 167 ahead with five wickets in hand after conceding a 45-run lead.
Misbah-ul-Haq (29) and wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal (21), the last pair of specialist batsmen, were at the crease when bad light stopped play on the third day.
Pakistan will expect more from this duo to boost their chances of setting a challenging fourth-innings total on a wearing pitch. The pair have so far added 51 for the unbroken sixth wicket.
Misbah tried to ease the pressure with his bold hitting, striking two sixes in an over from off-spinner Harbhajan Singh. He was lucky to survive on one when Wasim Jaffer failed to hold a sharp chance at short-leg off Kumble.
Leg-spinner Kumble was well backed by Harbhajan, who took two wickets to help his team reduce Pakistan from a comfortable 114-1 to 161-5.
"We are capable of chasing any target because we have quality and experienced batsmen in our side," said Harbhajan.
"I think we have a good chance of winning. Kumble has already done very well here and he brought us back into the match with the first two wickets. I don't think the wicket will change much in the next two days."
Pakistani leg-spinner Danish Kaneria earlier denied India a big lead with three wickets in 15 balls to finish with 4-59.
India were bowled out for 276 in reply to Pakistan's 231 after resuming at 228-6, with middle-order batsman Venkatsai Laxman remaining unbeaten with 72 off 135 balls with eight fours.
Pakistan neutralised India's slender advantage when left-handed Salman Butt (67) and Yasir Hameed (36) put on 71 for the opening wicket.
But Kumble restored India's fortunes when he had Hameed caught by a diving Laxman at silly mid-off in his opening spell before accounting for Younis Khan (23) and a well-set Butt.
The Indian captain, who finished with four wickets in the first innings, continued to trouble the Pakistani batsmen with clever variations on a slow turning track.
Kumble trapped Younis leg-before and then had Butt caught driving by Rahul Dravid at lone slip.
Butt was the most impressive Pakistani batsman as he dominated the Indian attack with rich strokeplay for more than a session, hitting 11 fours in his fifth half-century.
"The match is evenly poised at this stage," said Butt.
"A target of more than 300 is always difficult to chase in the fourth innings, especially on a wearing surface. The ball is already keeping low and slow on this pitch."
Harbhajan also kept pressure on the Pakistani batsmen as he held a return catch to dismiss Mohammad Yosuf (18) and then removed skipper Shoaib Malik (11).
Laxman, 57 overnight, and Kumble defied the Pakistani attack for more than an hour in the morning session before Kaneria struck in quick succession.
Kaneria broke a 54-run stand for the seventh wicket when he had Kumble (24) caught by Younis at first slip. The Indian skipper added 17 to his overnight score of seven.
India lost their last three wickets for 14 runs, with debutant seamer Sohail Tanvir dismissing Harbhajan (one), and Kaneria removing Zaheer Khan (nine) and Munaf Patel (nought) off successive deliveries.
Pakistan 1st innings 231 (Misbah-ul-Haq 82; A. Kumble 4-38)
India 1st innings (overnight 228-6):
|Wasim Jaffer||lbw b Akhtar||32|
|D. Karthik||c Akmal b Akhtar||9|
|R. Dravid||b Tanvir||38|
|S. Tendulkar||run out||1|
|S. Ganguly||b Tanvir||8|
|V. Laxman||not out||72|
|MS Dhoni||c Akmal b Kaneria||57|
|A. Kumble||c Younis b Kaneria||24|
|Harbhajan Singh||b Tanvir||1|
|Zaheer Khan||c Akhtar b Kaneria||9|
|M. Patel||lbw b Kaneria||0|
|Extras||(b11, lb8, nb5, w1)||25|
Fall of wickets: 1-15 (Karthik), 2-71 (Jaffer), 3-73 (Tendulkar), 4-88 (Ganguly), 5-93 (Dravid), 6-208 (Dhoni), 7-262 (Kumble), 8-263 (Harbhajan), 9-276 (Patel).
Pakistan 2nd innings:
|Salman Butt||c Dravid b Kumble||67|
|Yasir Hameed||c Laxman b Kumble||36|
|Younis Khan||lbw b Kumble||23|
|Mohammad Yousuf||c and b Harbhajan||18|
|Shoaib Malik||b Harbhajan||11|
|Kamran Akmal||not out||21|
|Total||(for five wickets)||212|
Fall of wicket: 1-71 (Hameed), 2-114 (Younis), 3-149 (Yousuf), 4-155 (Butt), 5-161 (Malik).
Umpires: Billy Doctrove (WIS) and Simon Taufel (AUS)
TV umpire: Suresh Shastri (IND)
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)