Graeme Swann's career-best figures helped England restrict Pakistan to 144 for six in the first of three Twenty20 matches.
Swann's eventful night, in front of the biggest crowd of England's tour to date under the Dubai International Cricket Stadium lights, began with a glaring drop to reprieve Asad Shafiq on nine but he returned to see off the same batsman, with a clumsy and marginal run-out, and then take three wickets for one run in eight balls.
The off-spinner's final analysis of three for 13 included a double-wicket maiden and was a new personal best, by just one run ahead of the figures he returned against these opponents at this stadium almost exactly two years ago.
He induced a significant mid-innings wobble this time, before top-scorer Shoaib Malik (39) and Misbah-ul-Haq kept the hosts competitive.
After Stuart Broad won the toss, the captain himself did most to quell an explosive start from Pakistan - with a first spell of two runsin as many overs, in powerplay but debutant opener Awais Zia had already fulfilled his brief, clubbing a six and a four in his 18 from 12 balls, before mistiming a slower ball from Steven Finn straight to mid-off.
Number three Shafiq had his moment of fortune, dropped by Swann off Jade Dernbach running back from mid-off, as he and Mohammad Hafeez more than doubled the score.
Swann then earned his first moment of redemption when he somehow managed to dislodge the bails - it was not evident with which part of his body and whether it was in contact with the ball - to complete the run-out of Shafiq.
That began a run of four wickets for the addition of eight runs - Swann having a hand, or something similar in the first - and then the bowler for the rest.
Hafeez picked out the man in the leg-side deep and Shahid Afridi chipped straight to midwicket. Then Umar Akmal went for a duck as Dernbach, clearly holding no grudges for Swann's drop, took a fine tumbling catch at long-off.
From 65 for one in the ninth over, Pakistan were 73 for five in the 11th. Shoaib and Misbah therefore had to bat sensibly to try to salvage a worthwhile total, and fared admirably in a stand of 71 - which included a blatant Swann misfield at short third-man to concede an extra boundary in the final over, off a grimacing Dernbach.