Joe Root made a half-century as England rallied to 130 for three at close on the fourth day of the second Test, 360 runs behind Pakistan after the hosts' Younis Khan had made a swaggering 31st Test century.
Root, 59 not out, put on 102 runs with Ian Bell (46), the duo's second innings defiance giving the tourists hope of forcing an improbable draw.
Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq had declared in the early afternoon on 354 for six to set England a daunting victory target of 491.
Batting for a second time, England appeared as if they cared little for the scoreboard and were simply aiming to get through potentially more than 140 overs without losing 10 wickets.
Pakistan were similarly unconcerned by the run rate, positioning four slips as Misbah began with an all-seam attack of Wahab Riaz and Imran Khan.
Moeen Ali (one) lasted 15 balls in another miserable outing for the novice opener, his series average now just 12 after a thick edge carried to Younis at second slip off Imran Khan.
In came Bell to partner skipper Alastair Cook, who appeared to be struggling with an injury that left him labouring between the wickets.
Cook's (10) torment was soon over, his attempted sweep off Yasir Shah giving Wahab a catch at deep backward square as England stumbled to 19 for two.
Root brought up his 15th Test half-century, and third of the series, with a four past third man.
Bell then tried to leave a Zulfiqar Babar delivery, but the ball hit his glove and carried to Younis.
Pakistan, who have never lost a series in the United Arab Emirates, their adopted home since 2009, began the morning on 222 for three.
They suffered an early setback, however, when Misbah (87) thumped James Anderson's slower delivery to Cook at mid-off for a comfortable catch.
Younis was unruffled and Pakistan's record run scorer registered his 10th hundred in the UAE with a cut for four as Pakistan reached lunch without further loss.
Asad Shafiq then added 79 to take Pakistan past 350.
The first Test in Abu Dhabi was drawn.