Pakistan overcame their One-Day International series loss and maintained their world champion status in Twenty20 cricket with a convincing 49-run win over New Zealand at Dubai Stadium on Thursday.
Opener Imran Nazir lifted Pakistan to a competitive 161/8 on a pitch of variable bounce before the bowlers unleashed a tight line and length to dismiss New Zealand for 112 in 18.3 overs.
The victory was Pakistan's 20th in 26 Twenty20 internationals and their third in as many matches against the Black Caps.
Brendon McCullum, leading the side in the absence of the injured Daniel Vettori, raised hopes by smashing 17 off the first over bowled by Mohammad Aamir.
But Aamir came back strongly by claiming McCullum (19) in his second and Ross Taylor (five) in his third to quash any hopes of an upset. Aamir finished with 2-21.
Abdul Razzaq (2-9) then dismissed Scot Styris (four) and Neil Broom (14) before spinners Shahid Afridi (2-21) and off-spinner Saeed Ajmal (2-18) wrapped up the New Zealand's innings.
The second match will be played here on Friday. Pakistan lost the preceding three-match One-day series 2-1.
Earlier, Nazir hit five boundaries and four towering sixes off 38 balls before New Zealand, who put Pakistan into bat, hit back by taking the last six wickets in the space of 69 runs.
Nazir and Kamran Akmal (13) took Pakistan to 34 as Nazir hit two successive sixes off Ian Butler's fifth over.
Nazir added a quickfire 36 with captain Afridi (24), also completing his second Twenty20 half-century off just 34 balls. Paceman Shane Bond had Nazir caught in the outfield in the 12th over to put the brakes on the innings.
Aaron Redmond, bowling occasional leg-breaks for the first time in a limited overs match, dismissed Afridi for 24 and Shoaib Malik (six) to finish with 2-24, before hobbling off with a groin injury.
Abdul Razzaq hit a 15-ball 26 with three boundaries and a six to give Pakistan's innings a final flourish.
New Zealand started the match without captain Vettori who was ordered to undergo a CT scan after being hit on the grill of his helmet during the second one-day international at Abu Dhabi and began to feel unwell.
McCullum led the team, which was also missing pacemen Kyle Mills (shoulder) and James Franklin (back). AFP