Cardiff: Pakistan completed an all-round performance to defeat hosts and tournament favourites England by a massive margin of eight wickets, to book their spot in the ICC Champions Trophy semi-final, at the Sophia Gardens, in Cardiff, on Wednesday.
The visitors got off to a brilliant start after skipper Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and put England in to bat first.
Rumman Raees had a brilliant debut for Pakistan, as he got the early breakthrough, picking up the wicket of England opener Alex Hales in the sixth over. While Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root looked to reconstruct the England innings, Hasan Ali got the second breakthrough for the Pakistanis, removing Bairstow, just seven runs short of his 6th half century.
From then on, it was Pakistan all the way, as they picked up wickets at regular intervals. Hasan was the standout bowler for them, as he finished with stellar figures of 3-35 from his quota of 10 overs.
Ben Stokes was the only recognised batsman at the end, as he tried to hold the England innings together, with the tail-enders at the other end. However, the all-rounder departed with 2.2 overs left, and the England innings plummeted into disorder.
Pakistan finally bowled England out with just one ball remaining, for a paltry total of 211.
Chasing a paltry target, Pakistan openers Azhar ali and Fakhar Zaman got their side off to a flying start, as they put up a 118-run partnership. Both the batter brought put their respective half-centuries, putting Pakistan in a commanding position.
The introduction of spinner Adil Rashid by England did help them get their first breakthrough, that of Fakhar Zaman; he was soon to be followed to the pavilion by his opening partner Azhar ali, who was removed by Jake Ball. However, these wickets came too little, too late, as the two openers had already put one foot in the final, for the Pakistanis.
In the end, it was only a matter of playing patiently for Babar Azam and Mohammad Hafeez, who finished things off in style with a boundary. Pakistan now await the result of Thursday’s semifinal between India and Bangladesh, to find out who they will face in the Champions Trophy final.
England: 211 all out from 49.5 overs (Joe Root: 46, Jonny Bairstow: 43; Hassan Ali: 3-35).
Pakistan: 215-2 from 37.1 overs (Azhar Ali: 76, Fakhar Zaman: 57; Jake Ball: 1-37).
Pakistan enter their maiden Champions Trophy final by defeating England by 8 wickets.
Pakistan: 215-2 from 37.1 overs
And its all over! Hafeez finishes it off in style, as he pulls it Ben Stokes for a four. what a wonderful comeback this has been, by Pakistan. Nobody gave them even an iota of a chance, after their heavy defeat at the hands of India in their opening Groub B match. Yet, here they are, marching confidently into the finals, as they vanquish their mercurial hosts on their way.
Pakistan: 187-2 from 35 overs
Just 25 more runs now. Babar Azam is taking the attack to the England bowlers, as he closes in on his 7th ODI half century. However, with so few runs left for them to reach their target, it does not look like the 22-year old will get there.
Pakistan: 173-2 from 32.2 overs
WICKET! Clean bowled! Azhar goes for the big slog, but missed the ball completely, as it goes on to hit the leg stump. However, this wicket is unlikely to rattle Pakistan, who are inches away from their target, and the Champions Trophy final.
Pakistan: 166-1 from 30 overs
Pakistan are well and truly on their way to the final. They are now playing their shots freely, scoring runs at will, as they cruise towards victory. England's failure to pick up the early wickets have hurt them big time.
Pakistan: 142-1 from 25 overs
Fakhar Zaman's wicket has slowed Pakistan's scoring rate a bit, but that should not bother them much. They have plenty of overs in hand, to get to their target.
Pakistan: 118-1 from 21.1 overs
WICKETS! Fakhar steps out of the crease, looking to make room and play an uppish drive. However, he edged it straight into Jason Roy's gloves. England finally have their breakthrough, but has it come too little, too late?
Pakistan: 118-0 from 21 overs
Rashid is weaving his magic. Azhar has found it difficult to read him. However, the leggie has not been able to find the breakthrough as of yet. azhar runs a Wood delivery down to third-man to bring up the 11th 50 of his career.
Pakistan: 99-0 from 17 overs
Fakhar Zaman brings up his second half century in ODI cricket, from 49 balls. The southpaw has been a thorn on the side of the England bowlers today. Not only has he gone after the England bowlers, but he has also rotated the strike well with Azhar Ali.
Pakistan: 88-0 from 15 overs
Morgan brings Rashid into the attack, and Fakhar welcomes him by dancing down the track to smack him for a four down the ground. Pakistan are cruising along at a steady pace at the moment, and none of the England bowlers seem to be troubling them.
Pakistan: 49-0 from 10 overs
Fakhar played a rather strong pull, but top-edged it behind the wicket. However, Wood was a ith too square of third-man, and it was too far for him to get to the ball in time. Fakhar gets a life.
Mark Wood is making life difficult for the Pakistan batters here. Consistently beat Azhar ali past the outside edge, to bring up England's first maiden over.
Pakistan: 26-0 from 5 overs
Pakistan have made a steady start to their innings. Azhar And Fakhar have played a couple of streaky shots, but they have mostly kept england under pressure in the first 5 overs.
Eng: 211 all out from 49.5 overs
WICKET! Jake Ball misses the ball, but goes for the quick single. However, Sarfraz was alert behind the wicket, and rolled it into the stumps before Mark Wood could get back to the batsman's end crease. That brings the England innings to a close, with a paltry total of 211. The English bowlers need to come up with quite a few tricks up their sleeve, if they are to defend this total, and make it to the final.
England: 206-9 from 48.5 overs
WICKET! Plunkett goes for the big pull on the leg side, but only managed to give an easy catch to Azhar Ali in the deep.
Hassan Ali has been instrumental for Pakistan today. He completes his spell of 10 overs with figures of 3-35.
England: 201-8 from 47.3 overs
WICKET! Stikes makes room for the big shot against Hassan, but only managed to edge it high into the Cardiff sky. Hafeez, standing in the covers, got under it, and did well to take the catch.
England: 187-7 from 45 overs
These are heady days for Pakistan. Wickets are tumbling like a house of cards. Ben Stokes is the only hope for England right now. England need him to both, hold it together, and play the big shots, in the last five overs.
England: 181-7 from 43.3 overs
WICKET! England's tail has been exposed now. Rashid goes looking for the quick single, after being rapped on the pads by Hassan. The Pakistan players went up in appeal immediately, but Shehzad was alert, and got in a direct throw at the other end, sending Rashid back to the pavillion.
England: 169-6 from 40 overs
This is an absolute masterclass from the Pakistan bowlers. Junaid has been exceptional in the last few overs, as he picked up two key wickets, that of Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali.
England: 162-6 from 38.3 overs
WCIKET! Moeen Ali attempted a slog off Junaid's delivery, but it was well short of the ropes, as Fakhar ran in to take a good diving catch from deep square-leg.
England: 149-5 from 35 overs
Pakistan are on a roll! They have picked up two wickets for just 13 runs in the last five overs. Ben Stokes will be key for England, if they are to put up a decent target.
England: 148-5 from 34.1 overs
WICKET! What a bowling performance this is, from Pakistan. Sarfraz brings Junaid back into the attack, looking for another wicket, to expose the England tail. And he does just that, as Buttler edges it to the wicketkeeper cpatain. Half of the England lineup is back in the pavillion now.
England: 141-4 from 31.4 overs
WICKET! Another one bites the dust! Captain Morgan dances down the track, but Hassan saw him coming and pitched wide of the off-stump. Morgan only managed to edge it to Sarfraz behind the stumps, as he attempted the drive it through the off side. England are in deep trouble now.
England: 136-3 from 30 overs
The Pakistan bowlers have come out with real intent, in the absence of Amir. Not only have they stifled the run flow, they have also picked up wickets at regular intervals.
Ben Stokes comes out to bat.
England: 128-3 from 27.3 overs
WICKET! Amir's absence seems to have spurred Pakistan on. Brilliant bowling by them. Shadab pitches it on the fifth stump, inviting Root to slash hard at it. However, he only managed to edge it into keeper Sarfraz's gloves.
Morgan goes for the sweep, but the ball bounces higher than he anticipated as it seemingly hit the top edge and looped to the slips for a catch. The england skipper immediately went upstairs for a review, when the umpire raised his finger. Review suggested that it hit Morgan's forearm, and not the bat. It was too high for an lbw as well.
England: 118-2 from 25 overs
England march on, with Root and Morgan are consolidating the innings after the early wickets of the two openers. However, the runs have dried up since Bairstow's departure. England have hit just 10 boundaries till now, their lowest boundary count at the half way mark so far in this tournament.
England 93-2 from 20 overs:
There was a loud LBW shout against Morgan off Hafeez's bowling but he is safe as England need him and Root to keep Pakistan in check after Bairstow's dismissal in the 17th over. If these two manage to put up solid stand, it will make the matters even more dangerous for Pakistan as it will give license to Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler to hammer and tongs.
England: 80-2 from 16.3 overs:
WICKET! Pakistan have struck back. And its the danger man, who is walking back to the pavillion. Bairstow was looking in good touch, as he was playing the big shots with ease. However, looking to find yet another boundary, Bairstow lobbed an easy catch to Hafeez at deep square-leg.
England: 77-1 from 15 overs:
Bairstow hand Root have done well to stabilise the innings after the early wicket of Hales. The duo are scoring at a brisk pace, scoring boundary at free will.
Shadab Khan into the attack, and he almost gets a wicket off the first ball. Joe Root tried to drive one on the off side, but he mis-timed his shot, as he ball was airborne for a while. However, it went just wide of short extra cover.
England: 51-1 from 10 overs:
Hales' wicket has certainly slowed down the scoring rate for England. Sarfraz Ahmed has recognised this opportunity to introduce Imad Wasim into the attack. The left arm spinner has done well to rein back England, with an economy rate of 2 runs per over.
Joe Root comes out to bat.
England: 34-1 from 5.5 overs:
WICKET! What a moment for the 25-year-old Raees. Hales launches into a big cover drive against the left arm paceman, but he mis-times it, and only managed to lob it straight into the safe hands of Babar Azam.
England: 29-0 from 5 overs:
The two Pakistan bowlers are swinging and seaming it all over the place. After a strong lbw appeal in the first over by Junaid, Raees now goes up in appeal, as he raps Hales on the pads. This time, the umpire raises his finger. However, the two england openers immediately decide to go for a DRS referral, which showed that the ball pitched outside the leg stump. Other than these two opportunities however, Bairstow and Hales have looked solid out there, playing shots at free will. They have kept the score ticking at a steady rate.
England: 5-0 from 1 over
Junaid is spot on the mark straight away, as the ball wraps Bairstow on the pads, as the Pakistan bowlers go up in appeal. The umpire says not out, but Amir immedia tely signals his captain for a DRS referral. Ball tracking showed that the ball would have gone on to flick the off stump, after having pitched in line. However, less than 50 per cent of the ball would have hit the off stump, which is why the umpire's original decision stands.
An eventful over, this. After all that drama on the first ball of the over, Hales plays a classic straight drive to bring up the first boundary of the for England.
Junaid Khan to get the proceedings underway against Junaid Khan, as the sun beats down on the Cardiff Cricket Stadium.
The national anthems are done, and the match is set to begin, as Sarfraz Ahmed gathers his charges into a huddle.
Couple of changes for both the sides. Rumman Raees comes in to replace Mohammad Amir, who had suffered a back spasm before the game, has been ruled out of the game. Also, leggie Shadab Khan replaces Faheem Ashraf in the Pakistan XI.
As hinted by England skipper Eoin Morgan on the eve of the match, Jonny Bairstow replaces Jason Roy for England.
Pakistan XI: Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk/c), Imad Wasim, Rumman Raees, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan.
England XI: Alex Hales, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (c), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (wk), Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood, Jake Ball
Sarfraz Ahmed has won the toss, and has decided to put England in to bat first.
Bad news for Pakistan fans. Mohammad Amir's participation in this game is in doubt. According to reports, he is suffering from a back spasm.
Preview: England will take on Pakistan in the first semi-final of the ICC Champions Trophy at the Sophia Gardens here on Wednesday. The hosts will go into the match as firm favourites against Sarfraz Ahmed-led side, whose entry to the semi-final came as a surprise to many.
The ICC Champions Trophy is one trophy which both England and Pakistan have not won, with England finishing runners-up, twice, in 2004, and 2013, both at home. It is without doubt that when they come face-to-face on Wednesday, both the teams will give it their best shot.
The only ICC trophy England has won is the ICC World Twenty20, back in 2010, in West Indies. England has had a smooth tournament so far, with almost everything going their way. Being the only team to remain unbeaten in the tournament so far, they will head into this game with a positive mindset.
However, the only recent disappointment for them has been Jason Roy, who managed just 18 runs from 3 matches, with his top score of 13 coming in the match against New Zealand. If Roy is excluded from the playing eleven, then Sam Billings may get a look in.
Pakistan, on the other hand, had an up and down tournament so far. After losing to India, they went on to win against South Africa and Sri Lanka, with the second win confirming their place in the last four. However, the match against Sri Lanka did not go as smooth as expected. After restricting the Lankans for 236, the Men in Green struggled through to victory, winning by just three wickets.
Pakistan have their injury concerns too. One of the main injuries coming early in the tournament, after their defeat to India,was when Wahab Riaz was ruled out of the remainder of the tournament with an ankle injury. The PCB had named a replacement, Rumman Raees, who has not played a game yet. They have, however, gone with newcomers Fakhar Zaman and Fahim Ashraf, who have played two games and one game respectively.
It will be all to play for when the two sides face each other on Wednesday, and promises to be a good contest.
England: Eoin Morgan (Captain), Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (wicketkeeper), Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood, Jake Ball, David Willey, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Steven Finn.
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (Captain and wicketkeeper), Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Fahim Ashraf, Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan, Hasan Ali, Haris Sohail, Shadab Khan, Ahmed Shehzad, Rumman Raees....