Shaheen Shah Afridi jolted Australia with two wickets in three balls before Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith combined to guide the visitors to 70-2 at lunch on Day 1 of the third and final Test against Pakistan.
The situation could have been worse for Australia in the first session Monday, but Nauman Ali dropped a catch off his own bowling when Smith, on 19, drove back hard at the left-arm spinner.
Pakistan-born Khawaja continued his rich run of batting form in the series to reach a patient 31 off 64 balls at the interval, while Smith remained unbeaten on 28.
Afridi (2-17) struck in the third over under hot conditions after Australia skipper Pat Cummins won the crucial toss and opted to bat first on another slow wicket which is expected to assist spinners later on.
David Warner (7) was pinned on his crease by a delivery which seamed back into the left-hander, beat the bat and struck his pads. Warner didn't go for a television referral.
Marnus Labuschagne then got his second duck in the series, which is locked at 0-0, when he drove recklessly in the same over and got a thin outside edge. Labuschagne was run out without scoring at Karachi before Australia amassed 556-9 in the first innings.
Khawaja has scored prolifically in the series with the scores of 97, 160 and 44 not out in his first three innings in Australia's first tour to Pakistan since 1998.
He batted watchfully against the new ball before pulling fast bowler Naseem Shah to the mid-wicket fence for his first boundary well into the first hour and then lofting Nauman over mid-wicket for a big six as he negotiated the three fast bowlers and looked comfortable against the spin of Nauman.
Pakistan went with the extra pace option in the bowling attack and included Naseem in the XI in place of all-rounder Faheem Ashraf in the only change to the lineup which played to an epic draw last week at Karachi.
Australia retained the same XI which toiled for nearly 172 overs on the last two days of the second test but couldn't force a win at Karachi, where Pakistan captain Babar Azam played a marathon innings of 196.
Australia's historic first tour of Pakistan in 24 years has added significance going into the series decider.
Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium is hosting its first Test in 13 years since a terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team's bus in 2009 that led to a lengthy absence of international cricket in Pakistan.
No players in the starting XI have played a test match at the Gaddafi Stadium, where Babar made his one-day international debut against Zimbabwe in 2015 when Pakistan started its campaign to win back the confidence of foreign teams and the resumption of international cricket.
Azhar Ali is the most senior cricketer in the Pakistan XI, having played 93 tests, but is featuring in his first test in his hometown.