Pakistan pulled off an incredible five-wicket victory with two balls to spare in the first Twenty20 international against India at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Tuesday night.
Shoaib Malik, playing his first match in India since marrying Indian tennis star Sania Mirza, turned out to be the unlikely hero clinching victory in style by hoisting Ravindra Jadeja into the sightscreens for his third six of the innings.
It was a remarkable comeback victory by Pakistan who were tottering at 12 for 3 by the third over chasing a modest target of 134.
The partisan crowd which had packed the stadium on Christmas Day were sensing a resounding victory in the opening match of the first bilateral series between the two countries in five years.
But Pakistan skipper Mohammed Hafeez and Malik had other ideas as they slowly but steadily repaired the damage with some determined batting.
Their matchwinning partnership of 106 is the highest fourth wicket stand for Pakistan in T20 Cricket - the previous best being 101 between Malik and Younis Khan against Sri Lanka at Johannebsurg 2007.
"We were struggling when the debutant bowler, I don't remember his name, took those early wickets, Hafeez played a brilliant innings. You are playing against India, pressure is always there, but you have to play according to the situation," said Malik who remained unconquered on 57 made off 50 balls and contained three sixes and an equal number of boundaries.
Hafeez top scored with 61 off 44 balls, a captain's knock which contained six boundaries and two sixes.
There was a minor scare when Kamran Akmal was dismissed in the penultimate over the match.
Pakistan required 10 off the last over bowled by left arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja with 'Boom Boom' Shahid Afridi the non-striker.
Malik got a leg-bye in the first ball to bring Afridi on strike.
He got a couple in the second and scampered for a single in the third ball.
Malik showed his class with a booming drive which landed on the sightscreen to stun the partisan crowd, including his Indian wife Sania Mirza who has vowed to cheer for the home team.
"It is a great effort, we wanted to do well at the start of the series. Irfan was the surprise package for us and everybody. We knew that we had a good attack. We knew that Gul is always good with the old ball, they restricted India where we wanted them to. Once the spinners came on after the new ball, we knew we had a chance, we took a risk at the right time. It is a gift for the whole nation, it is Quaid day back home," said man of the match Hafeez.
Dhoni rued the fact that they failed to capitalise on a superb start given by their opening pair.
MS Dhoni said: "If we would have got more runs ... We got a good start, fantastic effort by the openers, we kept losing wickets after that, 10 or 15 more runs we should have got easily. 145 would have been a safe score."
He also blamed the fast bowlers for pitching it short forcing him to turn to Jadeja to bowl the last over.
"At that time, Pakistan were scoring at a high pace, we had to take that gamble," he said.
Jadeja was the most expensive bowler with his incomplete three overs costing 29 runs.
Part-time bowlers Yuvraj got 0-25 in three overs while Kohli went for 21 in his two overs.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar made a dream debut for India when he nipped back one through the gate of Naser Jamshed in the first over of Pakistan's innings when the visitors began their run-chase.
Kumar wreaked havoc in his second over dismissing Ahmed Shehzad who was adjudged caught behind by Dhoni after some deliberation as he attempted to drive an outswinger.
But there was no doubt about the delivery which uprooted the middle stump of Umar Akmal after swinging a long way as Pakistan slumped to 124 for 5 after ninteen overs chasing a target of 134.
Kumar finished with excellent figures of 4-0-9-3.
The best bowling by a debutant for India in T20Is was Pragyan Ojha's 4-21 vs Bangladesh in Nottingham in 2009.
Needing 89 off 60 balls, Hafeez upped the tempo of the Pakistan run-chasing by swatting Kohli twice to the leg boundary in the 11th over.
Malik not to be outdone launched Yuvraj into the stands over midwicket for the first six of Pakistan's innings.
Hafeez and Malik continued to take the attack to the bowlers to put the Pakistan run-chase back on track.
Yuvraj is hit over long on fence by Hafeez, who reaches his half century in style in the next over from Ravindra Jadeja.
In what turndc out to be the defining over the match, left arm spinner Jadeja was thumped by Malik straight down the ground.
Hafeez smacked him over long on to reach his half century off 42 balls with four boundaries and two sixes.
Jadeja's second over and 15th of the match yielded 16 runs.
The introduction of Ishant Sharma didn't bring any respite for India as Hafeez calmly despatched him to the ropes twice in the 16th over to change the equation of the match.
With seven wickets in hand, Pakistan now required just 24 runs in the last four overs.
Sharma exacted some measure of revenge when he dismissed Hafeez who cut a short delivery to Kumar at third man.
But Hafeez had repaired the early damage and put Pakistan on the road to recovery in tandem with Malik during their century partnership.
Earlier, India were restricted to 133 for nine by Pakistan after being put in to bat in the first Twenty20 international at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Christmas Day.
Openers Gautam Gambhir (43) and Ajankya Rahane (42) by putting on 77 runs in just under 11 overs, to set the stage for a perfect assault.
But it never materialised as Pakistan clawed their way back into the match by striking at regular intervals to stall India's hopes of setting a formidable target.
India were still in a commanding position when Gambhir was dismissed with the total on 90 in the 13th over.
But Kohli's departure in the 15th over triggered the collapse which saw India lose their last eight wickets for the addition of just 30 runs in six overs.
Umar Gul returned with a vengeance after an expensive first over to scalp three for 21 while Ajmal claimed two for 25 as skipper Hafeez rotated his bowlers smartly.
The openers were together at the halfway stage of the innings as India progressed to 133 with a loss of nine wicket in 20 overs.
Gambhir brought up India's 50 in the penultimate ball of the seventh over by hoisting Umar Gul over midwicket for his first boundary of the innings.
Earlier, Rahane greeted Gul by despatching him through extra cover for his fourth boundary.
Rahane treated Pakistan's best bowler Saeed Ajmal with disdain with an exquisite timed shot over extra cover for his first six.
After weathering the early storm from gangly pacer Irfan, Rahane and Gambhir set the stage for a perfect assault by posting 77 in just under 11 overs before being separated.
Rahane was the more aggressive of the two cracking five boundaries and six in his 31-ball 42 before spinner Shahid Afridi induced him to hole out to Umar Akmal at deep extra cover after a splendid innings.
India lost their second wicket when Gambhir is run out failing to beat the throw from deep square leg going for a sharp second run.
Gambhir's 43 off 44 balls consisted of a six and two boundaries.
Yuvraj Singh made his intention clear by going down on his knees and sweeping the first ball he faced from Afridi over midwicket.
But Irfan returned in the 15th over to prise out the dangerous Virat Kohli caught behind by Kamran Akmal for 9 as India stumbled to 103 for 3.
India slipped to 108 for four in the 16th over as Ajmal takes the big scalp of Dhoni whose off bail is disturbed after failing to punch him through extra cover.
India's batsmen continued to fall in a heap as they commit hara kiri in the chase for quick runs.
Suresh Raina was castled by Ajmal attempting a wild heave. Rohit Sharma run out by yards aafter a direct throw from Malik going for a second run.
Gul's third over was more eventful. Ravindra Jadeja was caught behind for a duck while Ishant Sharma was beaten all ends up by a deadly yorker.
Yuvraj Singh's dismissal triggered a major collapse. Yuvraj was deceived by a slower one from Gul and holed out to Umar Akmal at midwicket.
All-rounder Bhuvneshwar Kumar made his debut for India preferred in place of Ravichandran Ashwin.
Pakistan handed a T20 debut for seven foot tall pacer Mohammed Irfan who played two ODIs in September 2010.
Left arm pacer Irfan at 7 feet 1 inch, the tallest international cricketer in the world, opened the attack for Pakistan along with Sohail Tanvir.
Irfan bowling at a lively pace consistently over 140kph.
Irfan's pace had even the experienced Gambhir hopping around before Rahane finally broke the shackles by smashing him over cover for the first boundary of the innings in the third over.
Two balls later Rahane got India's innings going by steering Tanvir past point for his second boundary.
Rahane got his third boundary to step up the tempo of the innings lifting Irfan over the infield on the off.
"It is a new fresh journey and we are looking forward to do well. Conditions are not very different from Pakistan," said Pakistan skipper Mohammad Hafeez after the toss.
"Dew factor, we would have looked to field as well," said Indian captain MS Dhoni.
India: Gautam Gambhir, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Ashok Dinda
Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Nasir Jamshed, Kamran Akmal†, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Sohail Tanvir, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Irfan