Dubai, United Arab Emirates : Steven Smith and Mitchell Johnson frustrated Pakistan with chancy half centuries on Sunday but Australia still struggled to avoid defeat in the first test and moved to 196-8 at tea on the fifth and final day.
Chasing a daunting 438-run target, Australia needs to survive minimum of 29 overs in the last session to force a dramatic draw with Johnson batting on 54 and Peter Siddle not out on 4.
Left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar, 4-71, was unfortunate when Pakistan spilled four chances against Smith and Johnson after lunch.
Smith made a spirited 55 off 175 balls before he was caught close to the wicket after surviving a stumping attempt and a dropped catch by captain Misbah-ul-Haq.
Johnson also had lucky escapes in his 20s with Ahmed Shehzad and Yasir Shah misjudging catches off the left-handers sweep shots.