Saeed Ajmal and Mohammed Amir took four wickets each late in the day to rattle through EnglandÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s middle order and leave the tourists well-positioned for victory.
Increasing criticism coupled with the fragile position in which his side began the third day took the pressure on the shoulders of the out-of-form Cook to an unbearable level as the bell tolled. But four hours later he could breathe once again, raising his bat to a relieved and entertained crowd, eventually being dismissed for 110.
The England opener took on a far more positive approach in what many were labelling a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœdo or dieÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ innings for the 25-year-old. Jonathan Trott dug in alongside Cook as the pair played England into a lead.
Kevin Pietersen accelerated the run rate before Saeed Ajmal spun an off spinner through his defences on a day in which he relied more on his doosra.
A stubborn Trott then inexplicably flashed at a wide Mohammed Amir delivery after dropping anchor for the best part of four hours, scoring 36.
Proceedings nearly worsened for England as Paul Collingwood top edged Ajmal before Eoin Morgan was put down at short leg. They soon did, however, when Collingwood flayed at another wide Amir ball to the grateful Kamran AkmalÃ¢â‚¬â€England leading by just 127 with four wickets remaining.
Any chance of batting into a position to win the match was soon beyond England when both Morgan and Prior fell in quick succession.
Ajmal took his forth wicket of the innings bowling Graeme Swann to expose EnglandÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s final pairing. Stuart Broad and Steven Finn were unbeaten when bad light stopped play and will face an almost impossible task tomorrow morning.
MORE: The latest football news
MORE: The latest tennis news
BIOGRAPHY: Ethan Hazard
BIOGRAPHY: Daniel Sturridge