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Wednesday Jun 14 2017
Web Desk

Sarfraz-XI make history, lead Pakistan to Champions Trophy final for first time

Web Desk

CARDIFF: 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.

Set just 212 for victory, Pakistan finished on 215 for two, with Azhar Ali (76) and Fakhar Zaman (57) sharing an opening partnership of 118.

Fakhar provided a great platform to Pakistan, scoring 57 off 58 balls with seven 4's and one six.

Azhar Ali scored 76 off 100 balls before being dismissed by Jake Ball.

It was a mere formality when Mohammad Hafeez walked in to bat, hitting the winning shot to take Pakistan to the final of Champions Trophy for the first time.

Babar Azam scored 38 while Mohammad Hafeez made 31 off just 21 balls.

Pacer Hasan Ali, the star of the day, was named the Man of the Match for picking up three crucial England wickets for 35 runs. 

"We focused on our bowling. My coach Azhar Mahmmod helped me a lot, he gave me the plan and I implemented it," said Hasan Ali as he received the award. 

"Tomorrow is my brother's birthday and I dedicate this to him."

England were bowled out in the last over of the innings after Pakistani seamers ripped through the strong middle order. 

Sent in on a used pitch after Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss, England found runs hard to come by, with no batsman managing to score a fifty.

Joe Root top-scored with 46 and Jonny Bairstow, recalled in place of dropped opener Jason Roy, 43.

Hasan Ali continued his great form in the tournament, picking up three wickets while Rumman Raees and Junaid Khan picked up two each.

The fast bowlers were greatly supported by the spinners as Shadab Khan got one wicket while Mohammad Hafeez and Imad Wasim bowled miserly.

Hasan Ali picked up the big wicket of Ben Stokes of a slow ball. A few overs earlier, Adil Rashid was run out by substitute fielder Ahmed Shahzad.

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.

Junaid Khan struck again to dismiss Moeen Ali off a brilliant catch by Fakhar Zama. England were eight down for 201 in the 48th over.

Junaid Khan had Jos Butler (4) out only moments earlier. 

England's fourth wicket fell when Hasan Ali struck again to dismiss skipper Eoin Morgan (33). 

Young spinner Shadab Khan dismissed Joe Root to end a promising partnership between the prolific batsman and Eoin Morgan.

Hasan Ali ended Jonny Bairstow's innings (43) as Pakistan continued to keep the English batting on the backfoot.

Rumman Raees picked up the wicket of opener Alex Hales (13) in the sixth over of the innings. The wicket came after both England openers had survived early LBW scares by the Pakistani pace attack. 

For the second time in three days in Cardiff, Sarfraz won the toss and elected to field on what was now a used pitch.

"We would have batted first anyway," said England captain Eoin Morgan at the toss. "Throughout the competition, this pitch has shown to be better to set a target than chase one.

"Pakistan can beat any team in the competition on their day so we're preparing for their best," the top-order batsman added.

Meanwhile, Sarfraz said: "England are a good team so we have to play positive cricket against them."

Pakistan suffered a blow as Mohammad Amir was ruled out of the Champions Trophy semi-final against England at Cardiff.

Amir was sidelined with a back spasm, having been a key figure in Pakistan's virtual quarter-final win against Sri Lanka in Cardiff on Monday.

The left-arm quick took two for 53 and also starred with the bat, making an unbeaten 28 in a match-clinching unbroken stand of 75 with Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed (61 not out) that clinched a three-wicket win.

Amir was replaced by fellow left-arm seamer Rumman Raees, making his ODI debut.

Pakistan made another change bringing in leg-spinning all-rounder Shadab Khan in place of Fahim Ashraf, a pace-bowling all-rounder.

England's Jonny Bairstow was in for out-of-form opener Jason Roy.

Tournament hosts England were the only unbeaten side left in an event featuring the world's top eight ODI sides, having won all three of their group games.

Pakistan were playing their fourth semi-final of the tournament, having made past appearances in 2000, 2004 and 2009, but never having made it to the final before.

Bangladesh clash with India on Thursday in the second semifinal at Edgbaston, the winners of which will face off with Pakistan on Sunday at The Oval for the Champions Trophy.

Group A

Pos Team P NRR Pts
1 England 3 1.04 6
2 Bangladesh 3 0 3
3 Australia 3 -0.99 2
4 New Zealand 3 -1.05 1

Group B

Pos Team P NRR Pts
1 India 3 1.37 4
2 Pakistan 3 -0.68 4
3 South Africa 3 0.16 2
4 Sri Lanka 3 -0.79 2