Kolkata: Misbah-ul-Haq and Kamran Akmal hit half-centuries under pressure to steady Pakistan in the second Test against India at Eden Gardens here on Sunday.
In-form Misbah made an unbeaten 73 and wicket-keeper Akmal a solid 63 not out as Pakistan recovered from 150-5 to reach 256-5 in their first innings at tea on the third day in reply to India's massive 616-5 declared.
Misbah, who scored 82 in the previous Test, put on 106 for the unfinished sixth-wicket stand with Akmal after Pakistan had lost four wickets in the morning in a poor batting performance on a good track.
Pakistan, trailing 1-0 in the three-match series, were still not out of trouble as they needed 161 more runs to avoid the follow-on. Their hopes now depend on this last pair of specialist batsmen.
Akmal and Misbah put the Indian attack in proper perspective, denying the hosts success in the afternoon session with their defiant knocks.
Misbah batted aggressively and was lucky to survive on 22 when Sachin Tendulkar dropped a catch at mid-wicket off leg-spinner Anil Kumble. It was the only chance he has given.
Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh began the slide when he bagged two wickets in successive overs before paceman Munaf Patel and Kumble claimed one wicket apiece to put Pakistan in trouble.
Pakistan resumed Sunday morning at 50-1, with left-handed opener Salman Butt (42) and stand-in captain Younis Khan (43) falling playing strokes.
Harbhajan had Butt caught driving by former captain Rahul Dravid at slip. He added just 16 to his overnight score of 26.
The bowler was celebrating again in his next over when he bowled prolific run-getter Mohammad Yousuf (six) with a delivery that turned sharply to surprise the batsman.
Pakistan's batting woes continued as Younis and Faisal Iqbal fell in the space of 16 runs to leave their team wobbling at 150-5.
Younis, three overnight, counter-attacked in a bid to ease the pressure, smashing a six off Harbhajan and five fours before falling to a rash stroke.
Younis, leading the side in the absence of unfit Shoaib Malik, was caught behind trying to drive an away-going delivery from Patel. Kumble then trapped Iqbal leg-before for a duck.
Brief Scores (at tea, D-3):
India 616/5 decl Vs Pakistan 256/5 (Misbah 73*, Akmal 63*, Younis 43, Butt 42; Kumble 2 for 69, Harbhajan 2 for 70, Munaf 1 for 55).