Pakistan's promising start to the World Cup was brought to a shuddering halt by New Zealand, who prevailed by 110 runs thanks to a brutal Ross Taylor century.
Shahid Afridi's men came into the match - the first of the tournament to be held at Kandy's recently built Pallekele International Stadium - on the back of three straight wins to open their Group A campaign.
And all appeared to again be going to plan as New Zealand were restricted to 210-6 with four overs of their innings remaining.
At that point Taylor, having been reprieved on nought and eight by wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal, had scored 76 off 111 balls - but he then went into overdrive as the Black Caps plundered an incredible 92 runs from the remaining 24 deliveries.
Veteran seamers Shoaib Akhtar (1-70) and Abdul Razzaq (0-49) came in for particularly harsh punishment, albeit neither helped their own cause by serving up a succession of full tosses for Taylor to dispatch over the leg-side.
Taylor, the most recent of whose three previous one-day tons came in October 2008, finished on a career-best 131 not out from 124 balls, including eight fours and seven sixes - a fine way to celebrate his 27th birthday.
New-ball pair Tim Southee (3-25) and Kyle Mills (2-43) each struck twice early on to reduce Pakistan to 23-4 in reply.
Southee added a third scalp, that of Misbah-ul-Haq (7), before Umar Akmal (38) and Razzaq (62) averted total meltdown.
But Nathan McCullum (2-28) removed Umar Akmal in the 29th over and, although Razzaq's 23rd ODI half-century saw him become the fourth man in history to complete the 250-wicket, 5,000-run double in the 50-over format, it was merely delaying the inevitable.
Medium pacer Scott Styris (2-17) took the final two wickets in the 42nd over as Pakistan were all out for 192.
The win puts New Zealand top of Group A on net run-rate but could have come at a cost as skipper Daniel Vettori limped off in the sixth over of Pakistan's run chase after falling awkwardly on his right knee when diving forward in an unsuccessful attempt to take a catch.
Vettori had earlier opted to bat first after winning the toss, a decision that initially looked open to question.
Brendon McCullum was bowled by Shoaib one delivery after his only scoring shot - a free-hit pulled for six - and Jamie How, playing in place of the injured Jesse Ryder, crawled to four off 29 balls before Umar Gul trapped him lbw.
Taylor got off to a torrid start, opening his account by edging Shoaib between wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal and first slip Younus Khan - who each left it to the other.
And Shoaib could only shake his head in frustration later in the over when, after being cut for a boundary, Taylor got another outside edge, which this time escaped Kamran Akmal's grasp after he closed his gloves too early.
Martin Guptill advanced to his 11th one-day half-century but his departure for 57, bowled by Afridi (1-55), was followed two balls later by Mohammad Hafeez (1-26) winning an lbw verdict against James Franklin (1).
Gul completed figures of 3-32 by sending Scott Styris (28) on his way lbw but Taylor's late fireworks - aided by cameos from Nathan McCullum (19 off 10 balls) and Jacob Oram (25 off nine balls) - turned the match on its head.