Sarfraz the hero as Pakistan squeeze into Champions Trophy semis

Hazel Gray
June 13, 2017

Earlier, Sri Lanka had suffered a collapse of their own as superb left-arm pace bowling from Amir and Junaid Khan reduced Sri Lanka from 3-161 to 7-167 in four devastating overs.

Suddenly, the chase was no longer a cruise.

It was Sarfraz's second impressive innings at Cardiff after the wicket-keeper's 90 on the same ground past year saw Pakistan chase down a target of 303 against England in a four-wicket win that prevented a 5-0 ODI series whitewash.

While Mathews played decent enough, scoring 39 runs in the match against Pakistan, it will be interesting to see if his team can break the trend set by Zainab, and go ahead into the semi-finals. The final is on Sunday.

Asked what was going through his mind when he saw the ball lobbing straight into Thisara Perera's hands at mid-on, Sarfraz said, "You know, that time I didn't see the hand of Lasith Malinga, and when I played the shot in the air, I just said, ooh".

"I'm not really sure, he hasn't spoken anything about it", he said. "That if we took it to the 40th over we would win".

Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews was left to rue his team's dropped catches as Pakistan squeezed into the tournament's last four.

Pakistan pulled of an emphatic three wicket win over Sri Lanka to storm into the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy on Monday.

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"He is a champion bowler for us".

However, Pakistan lost their next three batsmen in quick successions-Babar Azam (10), Mohammad Hafeez (one) and Shoaib Malik (11), who was playing his 250th ODI game. Amir, in the 18 months since his return from the spot-fixing ban, had only one score higher than 17.

Hasan Ali (3/43) also bowled brilliantly. They held their nerves and are deserved was a bit of a amusing wicket.

Pakistan, chasing a seemingly modest 237 to win, slumped to 162 for seven. Malinga, Lakmal and Perera got one each.

In what was a "must-win match" for both sides, Sri Lanka were dismissed for 236 - well below the modern-day ODI "par" total of 300. It was enough to take Pakistan home with 31 balls to spare.

Pakistan have little more than 36 hours before taking the field again in Cardiff for their Champions Trophy semi-final against England, but will find time to address concerns about their middle order despite the joy of overcoming Sri Lanka to progress to the knockout stage.

Sri Lanka's tail offered some valuable resistance - not quite enough as it turned out - on a flat pitch showing some movement.

Other reports by VgToday

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