Pakistan were in a backs-to-the-wall struggle to save the day-night first Test as Australia took a strangle-hold on the third day at the Gabba on Saturday.
At the close, the tourists were hanging in at 70 for two with Azhar Ali not out 41 and 112-Test veteran Younis Khan not off the mark after facing 19 balls. Pakistan trailed by 419 runs.
Pakistan made a much better fist of playing in the tricky twilight session with the pink ball losing just two wickets after their catastrophic seven for 24 in the first innings on the previous evening.
The openers lasted into the 12th over before Starc got Sami Aslam to edge to Matt Renshaw at first slip for 15.
Babar Azam fell to spinner Nathan Lyon in the final half-hour when he edged to Steve Smith at slip for 14.
It was slow going but at least the tourists were not shedding wickets in clumps to keep the Australians at bay and still with two long days to play.
"We have had some very good partnerships and we are hopeful of getting some more partnerships," Pakistan batsman Asad Shafiq said.
"We are taking this game step by step, hour by hour, and we are looking for the good batting opportunities here."
Australia will be pressing hard on Sunday's fourth day to win the series opener where they have yet to lose at the Gabba in 27 Tests stretching back to 1988.
"We wanted to have a crack at them at night time," senior batsman Usman Khawaja said, explaining Australia's decision not to enforce the follow-on.
"We wanted to try and get a big lead, give our bowlers another little rest, it's tough for the bowlers to back up in the hot humid conditions.
"We've got two days and they need to chase 400-odd, you always want to be in this position, but we've got to do a lot of hard work early tomorrow."
The highest winning run chase in the fourth innings at the Gabba stands at 236 for seven by Australia against the West Indies in 1951.
But Pakistan will have to go well beyond the record highest-ever Test run chase of 418 for seven set by the West Indies against Australia in Antigua in 2003.
Skipper Smith chose not to enforce the follow-on after Pakistan were dismissed for 142 in the first session, even though they were 287 runs in front on the first innings.
Instead Australia amassed a formidable lead over the beleaguered tourists to set up a declaration during the dinner break to capitalise on bowling in the final twilight session. Agencies