George Coetzee, Bernd Wiesberger and Branden Grace share the lead at the halfway stage of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters with Ireland's Peter Lawrie just three shots off the pace.
South African Coetzee improved on his opening-day 68 by a single stroke after mixing six birdies with a bogey in Doha while Wiesberger joined him on nine-under with a round of 66.
The Austrian - seeking his first European Tour win since 2012 - holed back-to-back birdies across four holes on the back nine to finish strongly and Grace's measured four-under 68 steered him into a three-way tie for first place by Thursday evening.
Lawrie had six birdies and two bogeys in his 68 to move to six under.
Damien McGrane is two shots further back after a level-par 72 with Michel Hoey also four under after a 69 which included five birdies.
All one stroke behind the leading trio are Emiliano Grillo, An Byeong-hun and Scotland's Marc Warren, whose emphatic 65 lifted him from the mid-50s and right into trophy contention.
The highlight of the 33-year-old's round was an eagle on the par-five first hole with only bogeys on three and 17 sullying the effect of seven more birdies around the Doha Golf Club course.
Overnight leader Oliver Fisher of England slipped to 10th after following up his Wednesday score of 65 with a one-over-par 73 that included three bogeys and two birdies.
Also in the mix were Darren Fichardt, Richard Green and Alejandro Canizares but defending champion Sergio Garcia was struggling to break through after signing for a second consecutive 69.
Justin Rose could only follow his opening-day score of 68 with a 73 after carding four bogeys across five holes on the back nine.