Published: Thu, June 15, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Pakistan limit England to 211 in Champions Trophy semi-final

Pakistan limit England to 211 in Champions Trophy semi-final

Pakistan made history on Wednesday after they qualified for the final of the Champions Trophy for the first time in history, beating hosts England in the semifinal at Cardiff.

England do have the in-form Jonny Bairstow waiting in the wings.

Thanks to openers' first hundred stand of the tournament, the inconsistent Pakistan middler order was not tested much. Azhar Ali's strike-rate of 79.02 since the 2015 World Cup is the lowest among all openers who have scored 1000+ runs in that period.

Eoin Morgan's men struggled after being put in on a used pitch as Hasan Ali (three for 35) bowled admirably, and Pakistan were not made to pay heavily for a series of early fielding lapses - or the absence of Mohammad Amir with a back spasm.

Root fell when well set after an edged cut off leg-spinner Shadab Khan was well held by wicket-keeper Sarfraz.

The lone downside for Ahmed was that he was fined 20 percent of his match fee for Pakistan's slow over-rate.

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India vs Bangladesh is the second semifinal, to be played at Edgbaston on Thursday, and what India can not do, absolutely can not do, is take Bangladesh lightly.

England, simply unable to adapt to a surface that did not favour their ultra-aggressive batting approach, were bowled out for 211.

England's ploy to bring back Bairstow in place of Jason Roy clicked but some poor middle-order batting saw Pakistani players dominating the hosts.

However, Bairstow top-edged one off Ali and Hafeez took an easy catch at deep square leg, leaving England at 80 for two.

The underdog carried their form and delivered an inspired all-round performance to defeat "so-called favourite" England in a one-sided Champions Trophy semi-finals. Obviously, the result that came here was disappointing for us.

England lead the head-to-head battle with a 6-4 record against Pakistan in ICC tournaments.

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Up against an England team who had won all three games in the group stages, and that too pretty comprehensively, Pakistan could have easily thought: "Alright, we have come farther than most expected of us, so no shame in bowing out in the semifinals".

Sarfaraz struck an unbeaten 61 runs in the must-win last group game against Sri Lanka, which Pakistan won by three wickets to qualify for the last-four stage. We had a full house, and everybody seems to get right behind us.

"Pakistan are a very strong bowling lineup", said Morgan. If we play good cricket, definitely we will win this tournament.

Such was Pakistan´s control that usually big-hitting England all-rounder Ben Stokes´s 34 took 64 balls and did not include a single boundary.

The last time they qualified for a 50-over ICC tournament was at the 2011 World Cup when they lost a thriller to arch-rivals India in Mohali.

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