Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann each took three wickets as England limited Pakistan to 256-7 on day one of the second Test in Abu Dhabi.
Broad's double strike in early afternoon reduced Pakistan to 103-4 before Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq put together a century stand for the fifth wicket to rescue their side.
Shafiq fell to Swann for 58 in the evening session and England's day improved further after taking the second new ball, Broad (3-52) and Swann (3-52) striking a further blow apiece.
Pakistan skipper Misbah remained unbeaten at the close on 83, finishing the day off in some style with a pair of sixes in the final over, taking his tally of maximums to four.
England made one change to their starting XI from those on duty during the innings hammering in Dubai last week, spinner Monty Panesar recalled for his 40th Test cap - but first since July 2009 - in place of injured paceman Chris Tremlett.
Pakistan had no hesitation in batting first on a dry, grassless surface at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, opening pair Taufeeq Umar and Mohammad Hafeez taking to the task with a stand of 51 in 18.3 overs.
But England hit back with four wickets either side of lunch, starting with Swann removing Umar.
The left-hander was bowled for 16 after failing to pick Swann's arm ball and Swann's spin twin Panesar followed up with the scalp of Hafeez (31), sneaking a quicker one through his defences one ball after dropping a caught-and-bowled chance from the same batsman.
Broad picked up the baton after lunch, bowling Younus Khan (24) and Azhar Ali (24) during an impressive spell with the old ball.
Younus' off-stump was sent cartwheeling after he played across the line and Ali was surprised by an inswinger that tailed back late.
Misbah and Shafiq dropped anchor for the remainder of the session and gradually repaired the damage during a partnership of exactly 100 in 30.4 overs.
Misbah enjoyed a life on 30, James Anderson failing to hold an edged drive at slip off Panesar's bowling.
Shafiq went to his fourth Test half-century from 103 balls but, with the second new ball approaching, lost patience.
He missed with an attempt to heave a Swann off-break into the desert and was given out lbw by umpire Bruce Oxenford, a decision upheld on review with Hawkeye showing a fraction of the ball to have struck pad in line with off-stump.
And England picked up a further wicket late in the day with the second new ball, Broad rewarded for another probing spell with an lbw verdict against Adnan Akmal (9), who had been dropped on nought by Strauss at slip off Anderson.
Misbah advanced to 50 for the 16th time in Tests from 142 balls but lost another partner, Abdur Rehman (0), in the penultimate over when Swann spun one through the left-hander's defences.
The Pakistan captain responded to that setback with an incredible counter-attack, launching the first two deliveries of the final over, from Panesar, back over the bowler's head for six.