If the Pakistan cricket team thought they might find some much-needed respite from off-field condemnation with a Twenty20 match against England they were wrong.
Man-of-the-Match Michael Yardy and Eoin Morgan led the home side to a comfortable victory at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff, to plunge the tourists into further woe.
After a day of more revelations about Pakistani players’ involvement in the betting scandal which has rocked the sport, the team from the Subcontinent were soundly beaten by five wickets, with England having 17 balls to spare.
Morgan top-scored with 38 and hit the winning runs, carving away an Umar Gul delivery for four. The Dubliner is 5/1 to get the most runs again in the sides’ second T20 international on Tuesday, again in the Welsh capital.
If the match follows a similar course as this one, Yardy will push Morgan close once more. He came in with England struggling on 62 for five in the 11th over and shared an unbeaten stand of 67 with the Irishman, finishing on 35 not out.
Another such display in the second T20 clash could see Yardy as the highest English run-scorer (12/1).
On a tricky batting wicket Pakistan had posted a below-average 126 for four, after being put in by Paul Collingwood.
Umar Akmal hit 35 off 30 balls to finish top scorer for Pakistan, but their total never seemed like being enough to win the game.
The 20-year-old has an impressive average of 39.81 in T20 internationals so would be a good bet to repeat his highest run-getter performance in the second match (4/1).
England are the reigning Twenty20 world champions and even without the disgruntled Kevin Pietersen they should be too much for a brittle Pakistan side in the second T20 match on Tuesday. England are 1/2 to win, while Pakistan are 6/4.