England suffered two costly collapses on the way to 216 all out in the first one-day international against Pakistan at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
The tourists had to overcame a miserable start, stumbling to 14 for three after choosing to bat in this day-night fixture.
Captain Eoin Morgan (76), continuing his rich run of form with his ninth half-century in his last 12 international innings, then combined with James Taylor (60) in a stand of 133.
But a second collapse, of four wickets for 14 runs including both set batsmen, stopped England in their tracks again.
Their top order failed to deal with the moving ball, Jason Roy and then Joe Root both going for ducks.
Roy was beaten for pace, and swing, by giant left-armer Mohammad Irfan (three for 35) - bowled second ball of the innings - and then Root missed a delivery which nipped in off the pitch from Anwar Ali, and the lbw decision on the back foot stayed with on-field umpire Johan Cloete after DRS.
Alex Hales was under way first ball with a four driven straight of mid-on off Anwar, but gone in the same bowler's next over - to more seam movement, away this time and edged to a juggling Younus Khan at slip.
England were in danger of losing the match there and then, but their fourth-wicket pair had other ideas.
There was no compromise in momentum either, as Morgan and Taylor ran especially well and let few overs go by without a boundary.
They built a most promising platform, from unlikely beginnings, reaching 145 at the start of what would however be a hapless 31st over for England.
Taylor was fortunate that his mistimed attempt to hit Shoaib Malik over the top spiralled just between fielders and marginally out of Azhar Ali's reach running back at deep mid-on.
But next ball, Morgan aimed to drive and edged behind; then Jos Buttler, so badly in need of runs and a little luck perhaps, had just one of the former and none of the latter when he was called through for an unwise single to midwicket by Taylor and short of his ground as Azhar's throw came in.
It was untypical of Taylor when he then failed to make the most of his moment of fortune - he would have been lbw to Shoaib, had the hosts used DRS - adding only two more runs before poking a low catch to midwicket off the all-rounder.
England had bungled their opportunity, the ease with which both Morgan and Taylor had batted indicating they were falling well short of a competitive score - all the more so when Moeen Ali fell to a brilliant one-handed catch at midwicket by Babar Azam, from a vicious pull at Yasir Shah.
Morgan's 50 had come at a run-a-ball, in his comeback innings after having to retire hurt with concussion when he was hit on the helmet by Australia's Mitchell Starc two months ago.
Taylor's included two resounding straight sixes off Bilal Asif and Shoaib.
But with both gone, the prospect of a commanding total was a mere mirage in the desert - and it was as much as England could do to scramble past 200, thanks to number eight Chris Woakes.