Pakistan stun England to reach final
By Krunal Gandhi, MyCricketHighlights Cricket Writer
1st Semi-Final: England vs Pakistan at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, June 14 - 2017, Cricket Highlights.
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The setting was beautiful, the skies were clear and both the teams were booming with confidence after their amazing performances in the group stage. The only difference between England and Pakistan, coming to the semis, was that one team seemed to be under a bit of pressure, while the other was a bit more relaxed. Maybe this is what helped Pakistan to play with more freedom and come out on top in the first semi-final.
It was an impressive show by Pakistan from ball one of the contest. Even though Mohammad Amir was not available, the rest of the bowlers stood up to the occasion and bowled to the best of their abilities to restrict the strong England batting lineup to a modest total.
To begin with, it was the debutant Ruman Raees who got the first breakthrough by getting rid of the dangerous Alex Hales. Once the fast bowlers were done with the opening spells, Sarfraz Ahmed brought his spinners into the attack from both the ends. By bowling tight line and lengths, they also didn’t allow the likes of Root and Bairstow to free their arms and score freely.
Lots of credit should also be given to the Pakistani skipper for making smart bowling changes. He sensed the partnership between Root and Bairstow growing in numbers and therefore brought his strike bowler, Hassan Ali, into the attack. The right-arm pacer took just three deliveries to strike as he got Bairstow out pulling in the deep.
Bairstow’s wicket brought a dry patch in the scoring rate as both, Morgan and Root, struggled to get the Pakistani bowlers away. Shadab Khan was brought back into the attack and the way he was bowling, it looked like he could pick up a wicket at any time. And he did so, as he got rid of England’s best batsman, in Joe Root, for 46.
Now, there is definitely some connection between Hassan Ali and wickets. Whenever he comes on to bowl, he straightaway picks up a wicket. This time around, he got Morgan caught behind and brought an end to the English skipper’s horrid time at the crease (he made 33 off 53 balls).
With two new batsmen at the crease, Sarfraz Ahmed sensed an opportunity to pick up another wicket or two and push the hosts on the back foot. In order to do so, he brought Junaid Khan back into the attack; and like his previous moves, this one also paid rich dividends as Junaid got rid of Buttler for just 4. From the other end, Hassan Ali continued his sensational spell of bowling and got past the outside edge of Moeen Ali’s bat on regular occasions.
The relentless stuff from the Pakistani pacers had made life difficult for Stokes too. Stokes, who is generally a free-flowing player, found it almost impossible to get even one ball away for a boundary. He was continuously pampered by short-pitch bowling from the bowlers and Stokes was in no mood to try and play the pull or the hook shot. Maybe he wanted to take the match to the very last over, but in doing so, he ate up too many deliveries and in the end, failed to make any decent contribution. He was eventually dismissed by Hassan Ali, who picked up his 3rd wicket in the match and also became the highest wicket taker for Pakistan in Champions Trophy history. He is also the highest wicket-taker in this year's CT!
Courtesy of the superb bowling and fielding effort from Pakistan, they were able to bowl England out for a modest total of 211.
The bowlers had done their job and now was the time for the batsmen to chase down the target and help Pakistan get to their first ever CT final. While Azhar Ali started off cautiously and took his time initially, it was Fakhar Zaman, who took on the English bowlers and played some cracking shots on both sides of the wicket to get the runs flowing. It was fearless cricket from Fakhar, who didn’t shy away from the short-pitch stuff and countered them really well by nailing the pull shots.
Soon Azhar Ali, too, got into the groove and played some lovely shots to get himself going. The two batsmen also brought up the 100-run partnership in just 17.2 overs and had done almost half the job for their team.
Fakhar Zaman, who scored a fine half-century, was finally dismissed by Adil Rashid, thereby bringing an end to the opening stand of 118 runs. England would have thought that the wicket might help them to make a comeback, but it didn’t, as Azhar Ali and Babar Azam formed another 50-run partnership to take their team close to the target.
Even though Azhar Ali perished after scoring a valuable 76, there was no way that Pakistan was going to lose the match from that point. Only 39 more runs were required and it was the pair of Mohammad Hafeez (31*) and Babar Azam (38*), who completed the formalities by chasing the target down in 37.1 overs and steering their team to an 8-wicket win.
EnglandSupport your team!
- Alex Hales
- Jonny Bairstow
- Joe Root
- Eoin Morgan (c)
- Ben Stokes
- Jos Buttler (wk)
- Moeen Ali
- Adil Rashid
- Liam Plunkett
- Mark Wood
- Jake Ball
PakistanSupport your team!
- Azhar Ali
- Fakhar Zaman
- Babar Azam
- Mohammad Hafeez
- Shoaib Malik
- Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk)
- Imad Wasim
- Rumman Raees
- Shadab Khan
- Hasan Ali
- Junaid Khan