Sport

Ali stars as Pakistan restrict England in Champions Trophy SF

Ali stars as Pakistan restrict England in Champions Trophy SF

Pakistan won the toss and made a decision to put England into bat first with two changes in the team - Mohammad Amir not playing due to back spasm and legspinner Shadab Khan comes in for Faheem Ashraf in the first semi-final of ICC Champions Trophy at Cardiff. And for once, the first Champions Trophy semi-final lived up to the billing.

England have come a long way in a short space of time since a humiliating first-round exit at the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

In ODIs in 2017, England average 327 while batting first and average 307 while chasing.

Sarfraz Ahmed produced a superb captain's innings following a top-order collapse to see Pakistan win the quarter-final.

Alex Hales' attempt to up the ante had already ended in a tame chip to cover, advancing to Rumman Raees to give the one-day global debutant his maiden wicket.

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

England struggled on a slow pitch against some brilliant Pakistan bowling and fielding, mustering only 211.

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But Morgan will be wary of a side who clearly relish conditions at the Sophia Gardens here where past year they chased down a target of 303 to beat England, with Sarfraz Ahmed hitting 90.

However, it was Pakistan who better adjusted to the used, worn surface, stifling England's much-vaunted batting line-up.

Pakistan will now contest the final on Sunday (June 18) at The Oval in London against either India or Bangladesh, with these two teams playing the second ICC Champions Trophy semi-final tomorrow at Edgbaston in Birmingham. The last time Pakistan made the finals of am ICC ODI tournament was the 1999 World Cup.

SPORT360 MATCH PREDICTION: England are favourites going into the match, but the way Pakistan have already proved people wrong in this tournament so far, you can't rule them out. "England are a very good team".

Pakistan beat West Indies, South Africa and Sri Lanka, with their only loss against India in their opening Champions Trophy match. Sarfraz, too, knows too well the opposition his team is up against.

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 ideal start.

Led by Eoin Morgan, England have shown all-round brilliance on the field with Joe Root and Alex Hales shining with the bat and Mark Wood and Liam Plunkett excelling with the ball.


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