ICC Champions Trophy 2017 Ist Semi Final: Pakistan Vs England Played at Sophia Garden, Cardiff; Pakistan 215/2 in 37.1 Overs (Azhar Ali 76, Fakhar Zaman 57, Babar Azam 38*, Mohammad Hafiz 31*) beat England 211 All Out in 49.5 Overs (JE Root 46, JM Bairstow 43, BA Stokes 34, EGJ Morgan 33, Hasan Ali 3/35, Junaid Khan 2/43, Rumman Rois 2/44) by 8 Wickets. Player of The Match: Hasan Ali (Pakistan)
A comprehensive all round Pakistan turned the table on tournament favorites England crushing them out in the semifinal of the Champions Trophy 2017 by 8 wickets at Sophia Garden Cardiff.
The bottom ranked Pakistan virtually written off by all after their crushing defeat against arch rival in the first of the group match produced a blockbuster performance with bowling, batting and fielding in one of the major upsets in the tournament’s history.
Three Pakistani pacers and three spinners bowling exceedingly well on the surface which gripped a bit made the formidable English batting struggle all the way as they could struggle reaching 211 all out.
On the same wicket Pakistani batsmen blasted the English attack in overhauling the target in only 37.1 overs losing only 2 wickets. What observers and critics thought of a cake walk for England turned out to be a comprehensive win for Pakistan.
England has never won a global tournament whether in ODI or T20I. Many thought this time host England playing wonderfully well since 2015 ICC World Cup was going to be champions. The thoughts got stronger after their very strong performance in the group stage against Bangladesh, New Zealand and Australia.
On the other hand Pakistan somehow managed to qualify for the tournament as the bottom ranked team at the expense of West Indies. It crushed to a huge defeat in their first group match against arch rivals India.
Most observers and analysts were thinking of a cake walk for England. Even Pakistani Chacha possibly could not even imagine the manner in which like CORNERED TIGERS PAKISTAN Would turn around.
Moreover, in the match, Pakistan had to appear without their main weapon Mohammad Amir declared unfit. Rookie pacer Rumman Rois replaced him. Three pacers Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan and Rumman Rois bowled fast and always at the right channel consistently teasing and tormenting English batsmen. Even three spinners Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan and Mohammad Hafiz bowled tight accurate spells.
Commendable skills and quality of Pakistan bowling on a reused surface where Pakistan got the better of Sri Lanka in their last match appeared as mine field for the home team. Four of the five top order batsmen J Bairstow, J Root, E Morgan and B Stokes got start but none of them looked at all comfortable. None could post even a half century; 5 batsmen could not reach double figures.
Pakistani attack was so dominating that free stroking Ben Stokes (34 in 64 deliveries) and Eoin Morgan (33 in 53 balls) could not take any liberty. Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan and Rumman Rois brought the memory of Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Yunis back in Cardiff.
Captain Sarfaraz marshalled his resources admirably. Some of catches were exceptional. New look Pakistan were far more energetic and enterprising on the field. The bowling was so disciplined that only 6 extras were conceded. England huffed and puffed in reaching 211.
Still few thought given the fragile nature of Pakistan batting and experienced English bowling attack they will make Pakistan fight. But a very spirited Pakistani opening partnership of dasher Fakhar Zaman and accomplished Azhar Ali scoring 118 in 21.1 overs laid the foundation for a huge Pakistan win.
Azhar started cautiously but on the other hand T20 specialist Zaman was awesome right from the start. His 57 in 58 balls set the tone of innings where he punished mercilessly anything short. Azhar was relatively calm in his innings of 76 in 100 deliveries.
English bowling hardly made any impression. Perhaps Morgan delayed a little bit in commissioning his tramp card Adil Rashid. Young Babar Azam (38*) and veteran Hafiz (31*) saw Pakistan through.
A rank outsider Pakistan knocked out tournaments hot favorite England from the tournament. It is really commendable that Inzamamul Huq inspired Pakistan team could blood some talented new comers who have changed the outfit of Pakistan team completely.
For the day the team had the horses for the courses. Hasan Ali and Junaid consistently bowled at the right channel and exploited the appreciable horizontal movement. Even debutant Rumman Rois did not disappoint. In the middle overs Imad Wasim, Mohammad Hafiz and Shadab Khan also put strangled English batsmen with tight accurate spin bowling.
This Pakistan team is looking good. If Mohammad Amir joins in the the four prong pace attack in the final will definitely cause headache for Bangladesh or India whoever wins today.
This tournament has already seen the exit of three pre-tournament favorites England Australia and South Africa. Who knows whether the remaining favorite reigning champions India would allow follow suit or not today.
A Pakistan –India blockbuster would be exceptional. But Bangladesh –Pakistan derby would not be less enjoyable .Let sunshine on the better team today and on Sunday.