Sarfraz Ahmed and Mohammad Amir’s record-breaking stand of 75 — the highest ever eighth-wicket union in the history of the Champions Trophy — has sent Pakistan through to the semi-finals of the ICC Champions Trophy, as they just managed to sneak across the line against Sri Lanka in Cardiff on Monday (June 12).
Sarfraz Ahmed finished on unbeaten 61, though he was dropped twice in the closing stage of play, and found a reliable partner in form of Mohammad Amir (28 from 43) to snatch an unlikely victory. The pair combined in the middle after the fall Fahim Ashraf, with their side reeling at 7-162 in pursuit of Sri Lanka’s 236.
Azhar Ali (34) and Fakhar Zaman (50) started off Pakistan’s run-chase in a promising manner, as they had propelled their team’s tally to 74 for 1 in just 11.2 overs before Fakhar was caught at long leg. However, a yet another middle order collapse that Pakistan cricket is so familiar with saw them lose their position of strength in the space of mere overs, with Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Babar Azam and Imad Wasim all failing to make an impact on proceedings.
Earlier, Sri Lanka were restricted to a below-par 236 despite starting impressively and dominating the most part of their innings. At 3-161 in the 32nd over, Pakistan bowlers came roaring back into the contest to remove life out of the Sri Lankan middle order, thanks to a match-turning four-over burst from Amir and Junaid Khan.
Hasan Ali and Junaid Khan picked up 3 wickets each, while Mohammad Amir returned figures of 2-53.
Pakistan will now face England in semis at the same venue, while India will play Bangladesh in Birmingham in a second semi-final.
Pakistan 237 for 7 (Sarfraz 61*, Zaman 50, Pradeep 3-60) beat Sri Lanka 236 (Dickwella 73, Junaid 3-40, Hasan 3-43, Amir 2-53) by three wickets
“First, thanks to the Almighty. I can’t believe it. Thanks to Amir, he played really well. I jus told him to play his game and not to worry about the score. That if we took it to the 40th over we would win. Drop catches are part of the game. Allah helped us and that’s why Pakistan won today.” Sarfraz Ahmed, captain Pakistan, said.
“A see-saw kind of a game. Credit should go to Pakistan. They held their nerves and are deserved winners. it was a bit of a funny wicket. We hadn’t got the runs on the board but we knew we could defend this. And the bowlers did their job, but we didn’t hold on to our catches. Proud of the boys. Even though we only had 236 to defend, they gave it their all. Unfortunately, we missed a few chances. In a big tournament like this, they fought hard an inexperienced team. I’m proud of them.” Angelo Mathews, captain Sri Lanka, said.