Champions Trophy 2017 | Bowlers, Sarfraz Ahmed guide Pakistan into semi finals

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Champions Trophy 2017 | Bowlers, Sarfraz Ahmed guide Pakistan into semi finals

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SportsCafe Desk


Sarfraz Ahmed’s brilliant 61* runs knock secured a semi-final berth for Pakistan, who beat Sri Lanka by 3 wickets in the final Group B game in Cardiff. Sarfraz rescued Pakistan from a precarious position of 162/7, while chasing 237, to set up a semi-final date against England on Wednesday.

Brief Scores: Sri Lanka 236/10 (Niroshan Dickwella 73, Angelo Mathews 39; Junaid Khan 3/40, Hasan Ali 2/43) lost to Pakistan 237/7 (Fakhar Zaman 50, Sarfraz Ahmed 61*; Nuwan Pradeep 3/60, Suranga Lakmal 1/48) by 3 wickets. 

In the final Group B match to decide who would join England, India, and Bangladesh in the semi-finals, Pakistan won the toss and sent Sri Lanka out to bat first. For Pakistan, Shadab Khan was replaced by Faheem Ashraf while Sri Lanka Dhananjaya de Silva was brought into the team to replace the injured Kusal Perera.

Mathews, Dickwella wrestle back control 

Sri Lanka opened their account on the fifth ball of the first over with a four and over the next four overs, they added another 18 runs to their total. As the Lankans tried to up the run rate, Junaid Khan broke the opening partnership sending Danushka Gunathilaka back to the dressing room. Niroshan Dickwella, along with Kusal Mendis, started rebuilding the innings and by the end of the first powerplay took their team to a score of 50/1. Just as Sri Lanka looked to be asserting themselves on the game, Pakistan dismissed Mendis and his replacement Dinesh Chandimal in three balls. With the wind in their sails, the Pakistani bowlers began controlling the match and over the next five overs they only gave away just 17 runs. Realizing that the run-rate dipped below 5 rpo, Angelo Mathews and Dickwella targeted Fahim Ashraf taking 12 runs in his 23rd over. At the halfway point of the innings, Sri Lanka had managed to reach a respectable score of 127/3.

Pakistan claw their way back into the game

Having settled well at the crease, Mathews and Dickwella scored 33 runs in the next five overs, to take the score to 167/7, but the next five proved to be their undoing. Pakistan dismissed Mathews (39), Silva (1), Dickwella (73), and Thisara Perera (1) to restrict the Sri Lankans to  167/7 with 15 overs to go. After this blow, Asela Gunaratne and Suranga Lakmal tried to put together a partnership to take their team to a competitive total. But after adding 46 runs to the total, Lakmal was cleaned up by Hasan Ali in the 45th over. After another 19-run stand between Gunaratne and Malinga, Ali dismissed the dangerous Gunaratne for 27 off 44 balls to bring Pradeep to the crease. The Sri Lankan No. 11 was dismissed tamely on the second ball of the fiftieth over when he hit the ball back at Fahim Ashraf with the scoreboard reflecting a score of 236.

Sri Lanka fight back after Zaman fifty

Needing to defend a modest total, Sri Lanka got off to a good start with Malinga getting a maiden in his first over, but in his second over Fakhar Zaman smashed the Sri Lankan great for three boundaries to signal his intent. Even though the Sri Lankans bowlers were creating some problems for Pakistan, the latter’s openers were scoring at a brisk pace as they scored 65 in the first powerplay. The 27-year-old Zaman brought up his first ODI fifty in the 11th over, but in the next one, he was back in the dressing room after top-edging a Pradeep delivery to Gunaratne at fine leg. Sensing the opportunity, Sri Lanka piled on the pressure and in the next five overs conceded just 21 runs while sending Babar Azam (10) and Mohammad Hafeez (1) packing. At the midway point, Pakistan needed just 105 runs to book a place in the semi-final, but the dismissals of Azhar Ali and Shoaib Malik meant that Sri Lanka still had a chance in the game.

Sarfraz and Amir secure unlikely win for Pakistan 

It didn’t get better for Pakistan as Imad Wasim was dismissed for four making the equation favorable for Sri Lanka, who needed just four more wickets to wrap up the game. The incoming debutant, Faheem Ashraf, however, looked unperturbed by all the noise in Cardiff as he smashed Malinga for a six before finding the fine leg boundary on Pradeep’s bowling. Just as Pakistan brought the required rate below four runs an over, Ashraf was dismissed when he failed to make his crease as Perera deflected Sarfraz’s shot onto the stumps. At the end of the 35 overs, Sarfraz and Amir guided Pakistan to 175/7, ensuring they needed 62 runs at a rate of 4.13. The next over, however, proved to be the turning point as Perera leaked 9 runs to take the run rate below four. With the required runs falling below 50 runs, Sri Lanka brought Malinga back into the attack and the veteran created two chances for his team but first Perera then Seekugge dropped Sarfraz to hand Pakistan the initiative. Eventually, riding on a 75-run partnership for the eighth wicket, Pakistan completed the win and booked a semi-final date against England on Wednesday.

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