Sarfraz steers Pakistan into Champions Trophy semis

Posted June 16, 2017

That is the stark reality after a demoralising and desperate defeat to Pakistan in Cardiff which has seen them exit the Champions Trophy, a competition they were fancied to win, at the semi-final stage. Angelo Mathews' men only have themselves to blame for losing out on an easy win.

Pakistan managed to bundle out a formidable Sri Lankan batting line-up for 236 runs in their last Group B match after deciding to bowl first at the Cardiff Wales Stadium here on Monday.

Gone are the days when cricketers used to be well built and athletic; Hasan Ali has changed it all. Between them, 11 English batsmen in a team known for its mantra of all-out attack, didn't hit a single six compared to five sixes lofted by Pakistan's top four.

So when Pakistan try to win another knockout match at Cardiff on Wednesday, they will have to be miles better than they were against Sri Lanka.

But a return to the Welsh capital in under 48 hours' time was secured thanks to the efforts of captain Sarfraz Ahmed and opening bowler Mohammad Amir. Electing to field, Pakistan seamers dished out a superb bowling effort to finish the England innings in 49.5 overs at Sophia Gardens.

6 - Hasan Ali became the sixth bowler to take three consecutive three-wicket hauls in the Champions Trophy after Michael Kasprowicz, Muttiah Muralitharan, Wayne Parnell, Stuart Broad and Mitchell McClengahan. Despite a strong start, Sri Lanka's offense sputtered out due in part to incredible performances by Mohammad Amir and Junaid Khan.

But captain Sarfraz Ahmed, who had already distinguished himself with two fine catches behind the stumps, steadied the innings, steering them home to 7-237 in the 45th over with a match-winning innings of 61 from 79 balls.

"Towards the end, where we let go of Sarfraz, it was very crucial".

Hasan and Junaid picked up three wickets apiece, while Amir and Ashraf snapped up two wickets apiece.

Needing 39 runs to win, the experienced Mohammed Hafeez (31 not out off 21 balls) and Azam finished off in style with a 42-run unbeaten third-wicket stand. "Every partnership we had started behind the rate, which put us under the pump a little bit, and none of our batsmen seemed to get away".

With three points, Bangladesh will be playing their first ever semi-final in an ICC Champions Trophy.

For England, Joe Root (46), Jonny Bairstow (43) and Ben Stokes (34) were the major contributors to the cause. "We have to discuss what happens", Arthur said, responding to a question about the fragility of the team's batting lineup.