THEY headed into the game with the aim of putting smiles back on the faces of cricket fans and England did just that, for a night at least, with a five-wicket win against Pakistan.

Dark clouds cleared in the afternoon for the first part of the Cardiff Twenty20 double-header to go ahead after a delayed start but they will be back over the Pakistan team now that game one is done and dusted.

The action continues at the Swalec Stadium tomorrow evening, but it remains a subplot.

Further allegations in the News of the World had turned a spot-fixing crisis into a match-fixing one and the pre-match talk was about how much more it would take for the coming one-day international series to be scrapped.

But the crowd reaction was good, there were no jeers or boos and the tourists were loudly backed by a sizeable Pakistan contingent.

They may have been without their banned trio of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir but they still had icons to roar on in Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Akhtar.

There was, however, laughter from the home crowd when Akhtar allowed himself to be nutmegged by the ball to concede a four and then followed it up by dropping the simplest of catches off a Eoin Morgan reverse sweep.

Cricketers are being watched more closely then ever but human error is still allowed.

Mistakes play their part in making the game what it is and howlers from both sides helped make yesterday’s game an engrossing one.

Glamorgan chiefs must have been fearing the worst when they woke up to be greeted by rain.

A week of revelations and the dropping of England star batsman Kevin Pietersen had already hit ticket sales, though a general dissatisfaction with T20 at the end of a long, fixture-filled summer also played its part.

The gloomy conditions hit their hopes of a late surge but thankfully the clouds shifted and the drainage system limited the delay to half an hour.

Cricket administrators would have been looking for the healing process to begin in Cardiff yet for the two teams the old sporting mantra of blocking out everything but the game would have been appropriate. Easier said than done.

Pakistan said that they would avoid hearing about any more revelations in the Sunday tabloids.

Again, easier said than done.

However, both sides seemed to relish the chance to escape the saga for a few hours.

It was far from a normal match at the Swalec Stadium, outside of which news reporters and their cameramen sheltered from the Cardiff rain. But it was business as usual when the teams were able to get on with their preparations - England’s methodical fielding routines, Pakistan’s slightly less hectic drills.

And then it was on to the action with the visitors batting first and managing a slightly under-par 126 for four on a slow wicket.

It was the spin duo of Graeme Swann and Michael Yardy that did for Pakistan, the pair bowling eight overs between them for just 35 with three wickets.

Umar Akmal’s unbeaten 35 from 30 was the highlight for the tourists but they didn’t really make the most of having big-hitting Afridi and Abdul Razzaq in their line-up. Afridi faced just 14 balls for 16 while Razzaq didn’t make it to the middle.

Yet the target of 127 looked a distant one when England were 62 for five.

Two wickets apiece from Afridi and Akhtar put the tourists in a great position but Morgan, the hero in England’s ODI win against Australia in Cardiff at the start of the summer, stepped up once again. The Irishman (38 not out) combined with fellow left-hander Yardy (35 not out) for a partnership of 67 that saw the hosts home at a canter with 17 balls to spare.