England overcame the early loss of both openers to edge a cagey morning session on day four of the third Investec Test at Edgbaston.
The hosts resumed in fine batting conditions on 120 without loss but vulnerable still to further fluctuations, having conceded a first-innings deficit of 103 to Pakistan.
Alastair Cook (66) and Alex Hales (54) both departed quickly, without significant addition to their half-centuries – but Joe Root and James Vince dug in again for an unbroken stand of 57 which took England to 183 for two at lunchtime.
Cook and Hales doubtless had their eyes on bigger and better things, yet could add only another six runs between them to the 114 they already had.
The England captain fell to a diving catch by Yasir Shah off Sohail Khan, one of his poked drives looping within the clutches of the man at point to end a partnership of 126.
Then in the next over, Hales went too – pushing out at a drive and edging Mohammad Amir low to second slip.
England were effectively 23 for two, and in potential trouble again after their fightback the previous day.
Root and Vince could not afford to take any chances, and a stalemate developed as Pakistan too refused to chase the game – their seamers holding the ball outside off-stump on this slow pitch and Yasir keeping a much tighter line.
There were four successive maidens before Vince squeezed two runs wide of slip off Yasir, and then followed up next ball by whipping the leg-spinner through midwicket for four.
Root spent 19 balls stuck on 25, during which he played and missed several times but mostly left Rahat Ali before edging the left-armer low to slip – where Mohammad Hafeez could not hold on, Pakistan’s first missed chance of the match.
The Yorkshireman therefore survived but was hampered too by back trouble, his occupational hazard, and needed to take pain-killers as he and Vince continued to keep Pakistan at bay.