Stunning display from the bowlers coupled with superlative knocks from openers Azhar Ali and Fakhar Zaman ensured that unpredictable Pakistan overpowered the might of the undefeated England to advance to the finals of the Champions Trophy 2017. The 1st semi – final today at the Sophia Gardens was expected to be a closely fought contest. But, as the clichéd old saying says – Pakistan can win against the best and lose against the least fancied sides.
Fans witnessed the best from Pakistan today.
England was flawless with their performance throughout the tournament. Their batting was the most dangerous among all the teams that played. The bowlers were doing bettter than expected. And, when they were put to bat first by Sarfaraz Ahmed, a healthy 300+ total was anticipated. The placid nature of the wicket supported the assumption. As a bonus, they were also not required to worry about facing their lead pacemen Mohammad Amir who had to sit out due to a back spasm.
However, Pakistan pulled off a stellar bowling performance; something that can be rated above the bowling show against Sri Lanka in the nail-biter. Lead by the super talented Hassan Ali (3/35) Pakistan bundled out the hosts for just 211 runs in 49.5 overs.
Timely strikes at the start and a middle order wreckage was all needed to win half the battle.
Yorkshireman Jonny Bairstow finally got and match as Morgan got rid of Jason Roy obsession. However, Hales continued to struggled and flunked in the all-important game after showing tons of promise at the start of the tournament. The opening stand yielded only 34 runs at the time Rumman Raees got rid of Hales.
The rest of the top order got great starts but failed to make use of it. Bairstow reached 43 from 57 balls but ended up becoming Hassan Ali’s first wicket in the 17th over.
Joe Root accumulated 46 off 56 balls but threw away his wicket to leg spinner Shadab Khan in the 28th over after leading a brief revival with skipper Eoin Morgan. From this stage, things went awry for the batting side. Morgan also wasn’t exceptional today and committed the same blunder which Bairstow and Root committed – throwing away wickets at crucial junctions.
Barely four overs after Root’s departure, the skipper’s attempt to advance down the crease and play a wide delivery failed badly and ended up in a faint edge which was collected easily by Sarfaraz Ahmed. From here began the middle order downfall.
Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali were both taken care of by Junaid Khan in the space of just 4 overs. The left arm fast bowler yet again contributed with middle order wickets. The innings was successfully derailed after Stokes, the only proper batsman in the middle, became Hassan Ali’s third victim of the day with the team total at 201. The tail enders could not really make any difference and the innings was shortly wrapped up.
Pakistan was dominating with the bat as well, all thanks to openers Azhar Ali (76 from 100 balls) and newly found sensation Fakhar Zaman (57 from 58 balls). Tha pair made the chase look very easy peasy, adding 118 runs for the first wicket and throw England out of the competition completely. Fakhar was the first to depart and later Azhar also unfortunately could not stand till the end. But, Babar Azam and Mohammad Hafeez took care of the finishing job as Pakistan sailed to the finals effortlessly.
England: 211 all out in 49.5 overs (Joe Root 46; Hassan Ali 3/35)
Pakistan: 215/2 in 37 overs (Azhar Ali 76, Fakhar Zaman 57; Jake Ball 1/37)
Man of the Match: Hasan Ali who took 3 wickets.