Pakistan seal finale berth with smashing victory

Hafeez, Pakistan, Babar Azam

A smashing eight-wicket victory in Cardiff with nearly 13 overs to spare over the tournament favorites has put Pakistan into the final of the Champions Trophy — their first final in a major ODI event since the 1999 World Cup. It also ended England’s search for their first major 50-over global tournament title, as an enigmatic Pakistan side sensationally outplayed them in all three aspects of the game.

England might have been consistently notching up 300-plus scores since their dismal 2015 World Cup campaign, but it wasn’t the case this around as an enthusiastic, skillful Pakistan bowling pack ripped life out of the hosts’ middle order to limited them to only 211. It was the same surface on which Pakistan had defeat Sri Lanka two days ago in a dramatic manner to earn their semi-final spot, and they came out victorious once again on a re-used, abrasive pitch that suited more to their bowling than the hosts.

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After being sent in to bat under the warm and sunny weather, England made a strong statement early in the game by reaching 2-128 in the 28th over, with Jonny Bairstow scoring a swift 43 and Joe Root helping himself to 46. But Pakistan’s impressive seam attack came roaring back into the contest by conceding only 83 runs for the last eight English wickets, with Hasan Ali (3-35), Junaid Khan (2-42) and Rumman Raees (2-44) all claiming exceptional figures.

Despite a below-par target, England would have gone to the break knowing that they were still in with a chance given the fragility Pakistan’s batting has displayed so far in the multi-team tournament. But Azhar Ali’s sedate 76 and Fakhar Zaman (57), who scored another blazing half-century, helped Pakistan chase down England’s tally of 211 without any major signs of discomfort.

Pakistan now face the prospect of facing arch-rivals India — whom they had suffered a humiliating defeat against in Birmingham last week –once again in the tournament decider at The Oval on Sunday (June 18). India will play their semi-final encounter against Bangladesh at Edgbaston on Thursday (June 15).

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Match Summary:

Pakistan 215 for 2 (Azhar Ali 76, Fakhar Zaman 57) beat England 211 (Joe Root 46, Jhonny Bairstow 43, Hasan Ali3-35, Junaid 2-42) by eight wickets

Captains’ Comments:

“One thing we didn’t do was adapt to conditions, coming from Edgbaston to a used wicket, Pakistan did that well and played better. We did prepare, Pakistan bowled well but we didn’t adjust and 200 isn’t competitive, 250-270 would be a good score. [Used pitch in semi-final] It’s a test… There wasn’t [too much wrong]. We bowled okay but 200 was well under par. We continue to learn, everything we did was calculated, but Pakistan had played on the wicket previously and that helped. You have to adapt in knockout cricket, so it’s an important lesson.” Eoin Morgan, captain England, said.

“We bowled very well and after that the batting was good too. Mohammad Amir wasn’t playing but Raees came in and did well. We elected to bowl and chase again [which worked]. After India, every game was a knockout game, I said to the players to just play your game. [India rematch in the final?] Both teams are playing well, so we will play whoever gets through. [Hasan performance?] He’s very impressive, hopefully he will do that in the final;. Whenever he comes on he’s getting wickets.” Sarfraz Ahmed, captain Pakistan, said.