Kolkata: Kamran Akmal and Misbah-ul-Haq cracked impressive centuries under pressure to sustain Pakistan's hopes of avoiding the follow-on in the second Test against India here on Sunday.
Akmal scored a solid 119 for his fifth hundred and Misbah 108 not out for his maiden ton, as Pakistan recovered from 150 for 5 to post 358 for 6 in their first innings at stumps on the third day in reply to India's 616-5 declared.
The tourists, trailing 1-0 in the three-Test series, now require 59 more runs with four wickets in hand to make India bat again in the match.
In-form Misbah and wicket-keeper Akmal counter-attacked to put on 207 for the sixth wicket. They kept the Indian attack at bay for more than two sessions with their responsible knocks.
Pakistan found the right pair just when they looked like conceding a huge advantage to India. They were in trouble in the morning after losing four big wickets in the space of 73 runs in a poor batting display on a good track.
Akmal, 25, was more aggressive and was the first to reach three figures -- his fourth ton against India -- when he cut paceman Munaf Patel for a four. He then removed his helmet and touched the ground with his forehead.
The 33-year-old Misbah, playing only his ninth Test, reached his hundred when he turned leg-spinner Anil Kumble to square-leg for a four. He has so far struck 10 boundaries in his 204-ball knock.
The pair required both luck and pluck to pull their team out of trouble, with Misbah offering a chance on 22 and Akmal on 87.
Kumble was the bowler to suffer in the morning when Sachin Tendulkar dropped Misbah at mid-wicket and then left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan saw Patel floor a catch at long-leg to let off Akmal.
The lapses proved costly as both Misbah and Akmal went on to dominate the Indian attack with their attractive strokeplay. Akmal was bowled by off-spinner Harbhajan Singh in the day's penultimate over after hitting 20 fours.
India struggled after claiming four wickets in the first session, with Harbhajan taking two, and Kumble and Patel one apiece.
Harbhajan put Pakistan on the back foot when he dismissed overnight batsman Salman Butt (42) and experienced Mohammad Yousuf (six) in successive overs to spark early celebrations.
Butt added 16 to his overnight score of 26 before he was caught by former captain Rahul Dravid at slip, while Yousuf was bowled off a delivery that turned sharply to surprise the batsman.
Pakistan's batting problems continued as stand-in captain Younis Khan (43) and Faisal Iqbal fell in the space of 16 runs to leave their team wobbling at 150-5.
Younis, leading the side in the absence of unfit Shoaib Malik, hit a six off Harbhajan and five fours before falling to a rash stroke. He was caught behind trying to drive an away-going delivery from Patel.
Malik, who was injured playing football after the first Test, is doubtful for the third and final match starting in Bangalore on December 8.