ABU DHABI: Babar Azam eyed a maiden century against Australia as Pakistan swelled its lead to 487 runs on the third day of the second test on Thursday.
Azam was a career-best 90 not out off 141 balls, while captain Sarfraz Ahmed struck his second successive half-century and was unbeaten on 60 with Pakistan going to tea at 350-5.
A declaration is expected soon, but Pakistan is mindful of Australia escaping defeat in the first test in Dubai. Pakistan declared and gave itself just under five sessions to bowl out Australia. But Australia held out with two wickets to spare.
This time, Pakistan is expected to give itself at least two days - six sessions - to win the test and short series.
Despite Azhar Ali's embarrassing run out on 64 in the morning, Pakistan remained solid, with the middle order batsmen frustrating Australia. Spinner Nathan Lyon was burdened with the workload in hot and humid conditions by bowling 40 overs for his 2-130.
Australia's lone success in the middle session was dismissing Asad Shafiq, caught at point soon after the lunch break for 44.
Azam and Ahmed then dominated the attack, briskly scoring 115 runs in an unbroken sixth-wicket stand. Australia couldn't break the partnership even with the second new ball.
Ahmed has faced 82 balls and hit five fours and a six, while Azam, who survived two lbw video referrals, hit five fours and three sixes.
Earlier, Ali was run out in embarrassing fashion for 64 in the first session after Pakistan resumed on 144-2.
Ali steered a delivery through slips and the ball rolled towards the boundary. Ali didn't run, believing he'd hit a four, and met Shafiq in the middle of the pitch to talk.
But the ball stopped before the boundary at third man, and the chasing Mitchell Starc threw it at the striker's end and captain Tim Paine whipped the bails off.
Ali, playing his 67th test, and Shafiq, playing his 63rd, were dumbfounded while the Australians celebrated a little slice of luck.
That dropped Pakistan to 160-4 in its second innings, but Shafiq, Azam, and Ahmed batted on to Pakistan in total control of the test.