Pakistan closed the day on 137 for eight in their second innings, an overall lead of 244 on a wearing wicket where the tourists’ spinners bowled England out for 219 earlier in a fast-moving conTest.
Yasir Shah (12 not out) and Mohammad Abbas (0 not out) will look to build Pakistan’s lead further on the fourth morning.
Only once before in 81 Tests has more than 244 been successfully chased to win at Old Trafford, when England reached 294 for four to defeat New Zealand in 2008.
Centurion from the first innings, Shan Masood was out for a duck second time round, caught behind down the legside off Stuart Broad (2-23), who also removed Shadab Khan (15).
Chris Woakes (2-11) got among the wickets early, picking up captain Azhar Ali (18) and dangerman Babar Azam (5).
Ben Stokes, who did not bowl in the first innings with a quad injury, dismissed Mohammad Rizwan (27) in what was an important breakthrough late on.
Yasir (4-66) was the stand-out performer with the ball during the England innings as he produced prodigious turn.
The hosts had resumed the day on 92 for four and Ollie Pope (62) looked relatively assured as he moved to his fifth Test half-century before 17-year-old Naseem Shah got a delivery to rise sharply off a length, catching the bat and providing a catch for Shadab Khan in the gully.
Yasir bowled Jos Buttler (38) between bat and pad, caught the edge of Dom Bess (1) for a fine catch at slip by Asad Shafiq, before a skidding delivery castled Woakes (19).
Only a late cameo from Broad (29 not out) helped England past 200, with the second leg-spinner in the Pakistan side, Shadab (2-13), wrapping up the innings.