Pakistan to lock horns with England in first Champions Trophy semifinal
CARDIFF: Pakistan may be the underdogs heading into a Champions Trophy semi-final with unbeaten England in Cardiff who have won all three group matches in the tournament.
Pakistan is expected to come up with something unconventional, like two opening bowlers who are left-arm, or selecting a second specialist spinner Shadab Khan to replace Fahim Ashraf.
England however have the momentum born of being the only team in this competition to have won all three qualifiers, and of winning six of their last seven one-day series before this tournament, and of defeating Pakistan in 12 of their last 14 ODIs.
Pakistan, by contrast, suffered a 124-run thrashing by India in their opener before, just days later, upsetting the ranking in a bottom versus top contest by beating South Africa.
It then needed a tense win over Sri Lanka in Cardiff on Monday to qualify for the last four of a tournament featuring the world’s top eight one-day international sides.
Pakistan, chasing a seemingly modest target of 237 against Sri Lanka, were facing defeat and tournament elimination at 137 for six.
But Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed, dropped twice, struck a superb 61 not out and received excellent support from Mohammad Amir (28 not out) in an unbroken eighth-wicket stand of 75 that sealed a tense three-wicket victory.
England being clearly tipped as favorite in the semifinal contest against Pakistan due to their unbeaten run in the tournament with their settled team combination.
Pakistan have to play creative cricket to unsettle the settled side of the tournament.