The semi-final was really won by Pakistan in the field. But having said that, his sublime technique and mettle was on its peak against the mighty England, the team that had won its all three Champions Trophy games with huge margins. Or a combination of all three?
England's woes extended to a missed stumping to reprieve Mohammad Hafeez and then, with all hope long gone anyway, the ignominy of a no-ball call for setting six fielders on the leg-side when a maximum five is permitted in ODIs. They have done this consistently over the past two years. Still, they need to put down some big totals to win this match as Pakistan will not lose the match so easily. They could not adapt. 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. Stokes' innings was the equivalent of Ernest Hemingway striding into a bar and asking for an orange juice.
Pakistani restricted the formidable England batting line-up to 211 after skipper Sarfraz Ahmed opted to bowl on a used surface. Speaking on his team's continued poor run in high-stake matches at ICC tournaments that has led to the infamous moniker of chokers, he said that they had come close so many times and it was disappointing that they couldn't get the job done.
A lack of partnership between the English batsmen cost them precious runs for their score board.
Joe Root top-scored with 46 off 56 balls before being caught behind off Shadab Khan, but England's innings - for once in this tournament - never really accelerated. Azhar was responsible for the first three of the match, from a pull at Mark Wood, and Fakhar added a six with a mistimed hook at the England strike bowler. Chris Woakes was a big loss, but the English bowlers have complemented each other very well - that an excellent limited-overs bowler like David Willey is yet to play a game gives an indication of their strength. There was the statutory daft run-out - of Rashid - and Stokes' timing evaporated.
By now the potency of Pakistan's bowling was matched by the ineptitude of England's batting.
Still young in his worldwide career, Hasan Ali has already shown that he could potentially be an asset to the Pakistan side for years to come.
Englad all-rounder Fakhar Zaman took a stunning catch to get rid of Moeen Ali for 11.
England didn't manage a single individual fifty in their innings.
2008 The last time Pakistan's top four batsmen scored 30 or more in an ODI chase. In between there were some glorious, improvised shots through midwicket.
Azhar, on 76, dragged a delivery from Jake Ball on to his stumps before Babar (38 not out) and Hafeez (31 not out) guided Pakistan home.
"So it's important that tomorrow we pick what we feel is our best XI to win the tournament".
Trevor Bayliss will rue the fact that his side's worse performance in two years came at the worst possible moment, denying them the chance to secure their first trophy in a 50-over global tournament.