Captain Misbah-ul Haq stood firm as Pakistan lost five wickets, chasing victory on the fourth day of the second Test against Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club n Friday.
Set 264 to win, Pakistan were 158 for five at close of play, setting up a tense last day, with Zimbabwe having a realistic chance of sharing the series and earning a rare victory against one of cricket's major nations.
Misbah was unbeaten on 26 and will resume batting on Saturday with wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal (17 not out), with Pakistan needing another 106 runs to win.
Pakistan made an aggressive start to the chase after bowling out Zimbabwe for 199, breaking a trend of slow scoring on a wearing, cracked pitch. But they were forced to become more cautious as the Zimbabwe bowlers struck at regular intervals.
First-change bowler Tendai Chatara made a crucial breakthrough when he dismissed Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali in quick succession to reduce Pakistan to 46 for two in the 12th over.
Opening batsman Manzoor Ahmed stroked his way to his second half-century of the match, hitting 11 fours in an innings of 54 before he was caught at short leg off off-spinner Prosper Utseya.
That brought Misbah in to join fellow-veteran Younis Khan but Pakistan suffered a huge blow when Younis was bowled for 29, shaping to play left-armer Brian Vitori to leg and losing his leg stump.
Misbah might have given a difficult chance when he was on 14, with wicketkeeper Richmond Mutumbami diving far to his right but unable to hold on to a low deflection.
But Mutumbami made no mistake when Asad Shafiq tried to cut Utseya and top-edged the ball into the wicketkeeper's gloves.
Chatara finished the day with two for 29 from 13 overs, while Utseya had two for 40 from 13 overs.
Earlier, left-arm opening bowler Rahat Ali took five for 52 as Zimbabwe were bowled out after adding only 78 runs to their overnight 121 for four.
Rahat made the first breakthrough of the day when he had Vusi Sibanda caught behind for 10 and he followed up with the key wicket of Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor, who made 27 off 83 balls, as well as tail-ender Chatara.
Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal claimed two wickets and left-arm fast bowler Junaid Khan one as Pakistan kept the Zimbabwe batsmen under pressure.
Pakistan won the first Test at the same venue by 221 runs.
Zimbabwe have only won 10 of their previous 93 Test matches, with six of the wins coming against fellow minnows Bangladesh. But they have beaten Pakistan on two occasions, in 1994/95 and 1998/99. They also beat India twice, most recently in 2000/01.
Zimbabwe (1st innings): 294
Pakistan (1st innings): 230
Zimbabwe (2nd innings): (overnight 121-4)
T Mawoyo lbw b Abdur Rehman 58
P Utseya c Asad Shafiq b Rahat Ali 5
H Masakadza lbw b Rahat Ali 44
T Panyangara c Azhar Ali b Abdur Rehman 0
B Taylor c Azhar Ali b Rahat Ali 27
V Sibanda c Adnan Akmal b Rahat Ali 10
M Waller c Khurram Manzoor b Saeed Ajmal 3
E Chigumbura c Adnan Akmal b Junaid Khan 3
R Mutumbami c Abdur Rehman b Saeed Ajmal 29
T Chatara c Adnan Akmal b Rahat Ali 1
B. Vitori not out 0
Extras: (b3, lb11, w5) 19
Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-117, 3-121, 4-121, 5-136, 6-149, 7-156, 8-177, 9-199, 10-199.
Bowling: Junaid Khan 19-6-37-1, Rahat Ali 24.5-5-52-5,
Saeed Ajmal 22-7-56-2, Abdur Rehman 24-5-40-2.
Pakistan (2nd innings):
Khurram Manzoor c Waller b Utseya 54
Mohd Hafeez c Vitori b Chatara 16
Azhar Ali b Chatara 0
Younis Khan b Vitori 29
Misbah-ul-Haq not out 26
Asad Shafiq c Mutumbami b Utseya 14
Adnan Akmal not out 17
Extras: (w 1, nb 1) 2
Total: (for 5 wickets; 49 overs) 158
To bat: Abdur Rehman, Saeed Ajmal, Junaid Khan, Rahat Ali
Fall of wickets: 1-30, 2-46, 3-90, 4-100, 5-133
Bowling: T Panyangara 10-2-32-0, B Vitori 12-2-55-1(1w), T Chatara 13-2-29-2(1nb), P Utseya 13-2-40-2, H Masakadza 1-0-2-0.
Image: Misbah-up Haq