Champions Trophy 2017 | Resurgent Pakistan cruise into the final

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Champions Trophy 2017 | Resurgent Pakistan cruise into the final

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SportsCafe Desk


An all-around Pakistan registered a landslide eight-wicket victory over England with 12 overs to spare thanks to some resolute batting by Azhar Ali (76) and Fakhar Zaman (57). Earlier, a stalwart Pakistan bowling attack, led by Hasan Ali, restricted the in-form hosts to a mediocre score of 211.

Brief Scores: England 211/10 (Joe Root 46, Jonny Bairstow 43; Hasan Ali 3/35, Junaid Khan 2/42) lost to Pakistan 215/2 (Fakhar Zaman 57, Azhar Ali 76; Adil Rashid 1/54, Jake Ball 1/37) by 8 wickets. 

Pakistan won the all-important toss in the first semi-final of the tournament and elected to take the surprising decision to bowl first as the pitch was expected to slow down in the second innings. England brought in Jonny Bairstow to replace Jason Roy, who had been disappointing throughout the tournament, while Pakistan were forced to bring in debutant Rumman Raees after Mohammad Amir was ruled out of the game with back spasms. Shadab Khan also got the nod ahead of Fahim Ashraf after the latter failed to impress in the game against Sri Lanka.

English batsmen start steadily in a bid to score over 300 yet again

Jonny Bairstow and Alex Hales started the proceedings for England and looked to dominate the Pakistan bowling from the word go. The Englishmen succeeded partially but debutant RumaanRaees claimed his maiden wicket, in his third over in ODI cricket, dismissing the dangerous Alex Hales cheaply for 13. Root and Bairstow steadied the innings and at the end of the first powerplay the scoreboard reflected 52/1. Bairstow and Root went about their task of scoring, as usual, playing each delivery to its merit as they guided the team to 80/1 when Shadab Khan dropped Bairstow at 42. However, the spinner’s blushes were saved by Hasan Ali who dismissed the Englishman at the expense of just one run to bring down the curtains on the 46-run partnership. English skipper Eoin Morgan then came out to the crease and complemented Root beautifully to take England to a decent total of 118-2 at the midway mark.

Pakistani bowlers outclass the in-form English batsmen

England once again looked like they would score a competitive target as Root and Morgan were comfortably rotating the strike. However, 18-year old Shadab Khan came to Pakistan's rescue when he dismissed a menacing looking Root for 46 and brought a halt to Root and Morgan's at the 48-run partnership. Pakistan capitalised on the wicket and choked the English batsmen for runs which resulted in skipper Morgan's wicket when he tried to break the shackles against Hasan Ali. Shortly after his wicket, explosive Jos Buttler squandered away his wicket to Junaid Khan putting England in a spot of bother. Ben Stokes tried to anchor the innings while wickets kept tumbling at the other end with the next two wickets falling courtesy of some splendid fielding efforts in the outfield. Stokes’ brave innings came to an end in the 48th over when the all-rounder top edged an Ali delivery into the hands of Hafeez. Liam Plunkett and Mark Wood couldn’t see out the rest of the innings as the duo were claimed by Raees and a run out as the English were bundled out for a paltry 211.     

Pakistani openers start in attack-mode

The duo of Fakhar Zaman and Azhar Ali, just as they had done against Sri Lanka, started the Pakistani innings on high as they started dominating the English bowlers right from the offset as the former smashed Wood for a six in the very first over. The openers kept rotating the strike well and put the occasional bad ball away for a boundary to end the first powerplay with a score of 49-0, which was above the required run rate. However, the English pace attack tried to counter by bowling short, a strategy that had reaped huge rewards for Sri Lanka in the last game, to the batsmen but their strategy did not pay off as the Pakistani duo continued to score at a rapid pace to reach the 15-over mark with a score of 88-0 on the board. 

Pakistan seal a berth in the final at the Oval

Fakhar Zaman brought up his second ODI fifty of the tournament and helped Pakistan get to the 100-run mark in the 18th over with all their wickets in hand. Azhar Ali followed suit as the former Pakistan captain reached his 11th ODI fifty. Pakistan looked solid in the low-target chase but England finally got the breakthrough they so desperately needed, courtesy Adil Rashid who tempted Fakhar Zaman to leave the crease on a googly to send the Pakistan batsman packing. However, the wicket did not adversely affect Pakistan who reached the halfway mark with a score of 142 on the board. Babar Azam then partnered Azhar Ali to take Pakistan to a commanding position in the match as the duo played risk-free strokes to keep the scoreboard ticking. A tired Azhar Ali then chopped a slower bouncer back onto the stumps to miss the opportunity of taking his side to a historic victory. Mohammad Hafeez and Azam eventually led the Pakistan side over the finish line in the 38th over to book the first spot in the final of the 2017 Champions Trophy where they will face the winner of the India-Bangladesh game.

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