Umar Gul was the match-winner for Pakistan, above all with the wicket of Ravi Bopara when it seemed he was steering England towards a 1-0 Twenty20 series lead.
Instead it is Pakistan who have that advantage, with two to play, after an eight-run success in the first match at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
It all looked so different when the in-form Bopara was unbeaten on 39 and England were only 32 runs from victory, with more than four overs remaining.
But Bopara picked the wrong ball to try to manufacture leg-side runs; Gul's yorker speared round the stricken batsman's legs and straight into the base of exposed stumps.
Two more wickets in successive balls in Gul's next over helped him to figures of three wickets for 18 runs - and England finished eight runs short of the target of 144 for six.
Their batsmen were therefore unable to cash in on the efforts of Graeme Swann (3-13) and the rest of the bowlers, in restricting Pakistan to only a passable total.
Both England captain Stuart Broad and his opposite number Misbah-ul-Haq were in no doubt about the moment with changed the match.
"It was probably Ravi getting out," said Broad. "He got a good reverse-swinging leg-stump yorker.
"It made it hard for the guys to come in. But that's Twenty20 cricket - it can change in one ball."
Even so, England were left to rue the inability of an inexperienced middle order - with or without Bopara to guide them - to make 35 runs in the last five overs, with seven wickets in hand.
They were still only six down at the end, but could not find the necessary boundaries in the meantime as Gul and others squeezed the equation.
"They're the positions you'd want to win from," added Broad.
"There was a moment where Ravi was going nicely, and we got the rate down to seven (an over).
"At 35 from five, in a Twenty20 game, you'd certainly be backing yourself.
"They're the sort of games you should be winning."
Broad retains faith in his talented team, though.
"It's a great experience for the guys. You only learn from your mistakes, and I hope we will learn pretty quickly and put them right.
"Most times you'd chase that in Twenty20 cricket, but we just didn't manage to keep an 'in' batsman in throughout the innings.
"Throughout all the series [Tests and one-day internationals], it looks like quite a difficult wicket to start on, but once you get in you can be difficult to get out.
"We probably could have had someone go through the innings and win us the game in that way."
Bopara was not the only one to get a start - all the top five made double-figures, but none reached 40 - meaning Swann's career-best went to waste.
"We showed a lot of character actually, when they got a pretty good start, to get them from 70 for one to 70-odd for five," said Broad.
"Once we were in that position, and keeping them to 144, we were pretty confident at the break that we'd chase that."
Misbah knows who he has to thank for defending that total.
"The turning point was Ravi Bopara's wicket. The way he was going, the game was over for us," he said.
"When you've got Umar Gul, Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal - three of the top bowlers in Twenty20 cricket, top wicket-takers - you've always got a chance.
"That was the key. They kept the pressure on, and finally they just won the game for us.
"Gul really bowled very well. There was no answer to his bowling today."