Pakistan chose to bowl first at the toss. Sri Lanka lost Danushka Gunathilaka (13) early in the sixth over. After his dismissal, Niroshan Dickwella and Kusal Mendis took on the charge against Pakistani bowlers. They added 56 runs for the second wicket partnership.
After Mendis departed scoring 27 off 29, Fahim Ashraf dismissed Dinesh Chandimal for a duck in the next over to pick up his maiden ODI wicket.
Skipper Angelo Mathews made a 78-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Dickwella, who brought up his fourth ODI half-century in 52 balls. A big score on board was very much likely.
At that moment, Pakistan came back into the game strongly when Mohammad Amir and Junaid Khan came into the party. Mathews fell fot 39 runs off 54 balls with 2 fours and a six. Dickwella top-scored with 86-ball 73 runs hitting just 4 boundaries.
In 12 balls, Sri Lanka lost three wickets for one run. They lost Thisara Perera for 1 too. From 161/3 in 31.1 overs, they collapsed to 167/7 in 35 overs.
Asela Gunaratne and Suranga Lakmal added some resistance in the end. They made 46-run stand for the eighth wicket. Lakmal scored career-best 26 off 34 balls hitting 3 fours. Gunaratne was dismissed for 27 runs off 44 balls with 1 four.
Pakistan dismissed Sri Lanka for 236 in 49.2 overs. Junaid and Hassan Ali scalped three wickets each for Pakistan. Amir and Fahim took two each.
In reply to a modest total, Pakistan openers made a solid start. Azhar Ali and Fakhar Zaman put on 74-run partnership in 11.2 overs. Fakhar scored his maiden ODI fifty in 33 balls hitting 8 balls and a six. He was dismissed by Nuwan Pradeep three balls later.
Babar Azam (10) and Mohammad Hafeez (1)’s dismissals shook Pakistan. Azhar got out soon too scoring 34 off 50 with 2 fours and a six. Sri Lankan bowlers put six Pakistani wickets down for 137 which set the match for a nail-bitter.
Skipper Sarfraz Khan wasn’t getting much contribution from others. In the second ball of the 39th over, he was dropped on 38 by Thisara Perera at mid-on off Lasith Malinga. He was dropped again by Gunathilaka on 40 on the first ball of 41st over off the same bowler. The Pakistan skipper used those chances well and scored his fifty in 71 balls.
The unbeaten eighth wicket partnership between him and Mohammad Amir scored 75 runs, which is the best ever in Champions Trophy for this wicket. Sarfraz, who hit the winning runs, scored 61* runs off 79 balls hitting 5 fours. Amir contributed a crucial 43-ball 28* with a four. Pakistan won the game by three wickets with 31 balls remaining. They will play England on June 14.
Nuwan Pradeep took three wickets for 60 runs. Malinga bowled 9.5 overs for his 1 for 52, who deserved bit more wickets.
Watch Thisara Dropped Catch here-
Sri Lanka 236 allout in 49.2 overs (Dickwella 73, Mathews 39; Junaid 3/40, Hassan 3/42)
Pakistan 237/7 in 44.5 overs (Sarfraz 61*, Fakhar 50; Pradeep 3/60, T Perera 1/48)
Result: Pakistan won by 3 wickets
Man of the Match: Sarfraz Ahmed (61*)
-Ruffin, Correspondent, bdcrictime.com