Cardiff: Pakistan’s latest match in their controversial tour of Britain ended in a five-wicket Twenty20 defeat by world champions England at Sophia Gardens here on Sunday.
England, set a seemingly modest 127 for victory, collapsed to 62 for five.
But left-handers Eoin Morgan (38 not out) and Michael Yardy (35 not out) saw England to 129 for five with an unbroken partnership of 67 as they won with 17 balls to spare.
Victory, in their first match in this format since they beat Australia in the World Twenty20 final in Barbados in May, put England 1-0 up in this two-match series ahead of the second match here on Tuesday.
This was Pakistan’s first fixture since Test captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif were suspended by the International Cricket Council after newspaper allegations the trio were involved in a betting scam that saw no-balls deliberately bowled in last week’s fourth Test at Lord’s.
There had been concerns about possible spectator reaction to the tourists in the light of the revelations.
But Pakistan were well-received by a crowd of just under 11,000 at Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens with the only jeers coming as a result of misfields.
However, England dropped three catches in Pakistan’s innings and then lost four wickets for 20 runs in 25 balls to be 62 for five.
Off-spinner Graeme Swann led England’s attack with two wickets for 14 runs.
And with Yardy returning figures of one for 21 it meant England’s eight overs of spin yielded three wickets for just 35 runs.
Pakistan found runs hard to come by after losing the toss and only managed eight boundaries in their innings.
But England’s batsmen stuttered too.
Ravi Bopara, in for the dropped Kevin Pietersen, began the slide when he was well caught by Mohammad Yousuf, running back from mid-on, off fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar.
Pakistan one-day captain Shahid Afridi then had a wicket in his first over with a quick leg-spinner that opposing captain Paul Collingwood could only edge onto his stumps.
Steven Davies made 33 at better than a run-a-ball before whipping seamer Umar Gul off his pads straight to Wahab Riaz.
And England lost another wicket when Luke Wright missed an intended sweep off Afridi and was bowled for a second ball nought.
Pakistan should really have had a sixth wicket when Morgan on 13 reverse-swept Afridi only for Akhtar to somehow drop the simple chance at short third man.
They didn’t help their cause with a batting order that saw Afridi (unbeaten on 16) not come in until the 15th over while dangerous all-rounder Abdul Razzaq did not bat at all.
Their total would have been a lot worse had Umar Akmal, who top-scored with 35 not out, been caught on five.
Swann took his knack of taking wickets early in a Test spell into Twenty20 cricket with a burst of two for five in seven balls that reduced Pakistan to 56 for three inside nine overs.
He had Yousuf (26) well caught by Morgan, running in from midwicket and then beat Shazaib (21) in the flight with wicketkeeper Davies completing a neat legside stumping.
Tim Bresnan though reprieved Umar Akmal when he dropped a head-high catch at short midwicket off Collingwood.