Champions Trophy: Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed wary of 'very, very good England'


Champions Trophy: Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed wary of 'very, very good England'

Pakistan's Mohammad Hafeez (R) and Pakistan's Babar Azam walks back to the pavilion after Pakistan won the ICC Champions Trophy semi-final cricket match between England and Pakistan in Cardiff yesterday.

Hasan Ali got his second big wicket of the match by striking the wicket of England captain Eoin Morgan at 33.

He followed it up with another three-wicket haul against Sri Lanka to book Pakistan's berth in the semi-final where they were were set to face arguably their sternest test of the competition, in the form of tournament favourites England.

It seemed Pakistani batsmen were batting on a different pitch during the chase as they cruised to complete the target in 37.1 overs, after openers Azhar Ali (76 off 100) and Fakhar Zaman (57 off 58) provided a flawless start.

The ICC Champions Trophy match between England and Pakistan match will be played at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff.

Azhar made a patient 76 with five fours and a six while flamboyant Fakhar hit 57 off 58 balls, thanks to seven fours and a six. The dashing Fakhar completed a 49-ball fifty to follow his 50 against Sri Lanka.

Pakistan - who are the lowest ranked team in the tournament - could now gain revenge over India for their opening-game defeat, but only if Virat Kohli's side can overcome Bangladesh in the second semi-final on Thursday.

"Every game is a knockout game and I told my boys to play their game and not worry about the result".

Pakistan, by contrast, suffered a 124-run thrashing by India in their opener before, just days later, upsetting the ranking in a bottom versus top contest by beating South Africa. Besides Ali (3/35), the other bowlers who impressed were Junaid Khan (2/42) and debutant Rumman Raees (2/44).

After a surprise group defeat by Sri Lanka in a tournament featuring the world's top eight one-day global sides, India responded to their "win or go home" clash against South Africa with a commanding eight-wicket victory over the top-ranked Proteas at the Oval last weekend. The hosts started solidly to reach 118-2 in their first 25 overs and then lost eight wickets for 93 runs in the next 25.

Bairstow replaced Roy after the Surrey opener had managed just 51 runs in eight ODI innings this season. But if the bare, dry nature of it favoured Pakistan, who are brought up on such surfaces, Eoin Morgan's England side should have risen better to the cerebral challenge posed by conditions like these.

Stokes waged a lone war, scoring 34 off 64 balls, but he too couldn't hit a single boundary.

Pakistan made another change bringing in leg-spinning all-rounder Shadab Khan in place of Fahim Ashraf, a pace-bowling all-rounder.

Hitting boundaries proved hard, however, and a clearly frustrated Hales, on 13, spooned Rumman Raees to cover with a loose drive.

He eventually holed out to cover when deceived by Hasan's slower ball. "They bowled really well", he said.



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