Sarfraz Ahmed played a captain’s knock as he partnered with Mohammad Amir for a 75-run seventh-wicket partnership against Sri Lanka in the last group-stage competition to take Pakistan into the semi-finals. Pakistan takes on the hosts England in the first semi-final at Cardiff on Wednesday.
Cricingif looks at the moments that defined the contest.
It was just the third over when Niroshan Dickwella scooped Junaid Khan for a four over wicketkeeper’s head. Normally such an improvisation – introduced by Sri Lanka batting legend, Tilakaratne Dilshan – is witnessed in the death overs. But, Dickwella just 10 balls into his innings dilscooped Junaid to perfection. The shot was a glimpse of what to come. The left-handed batsman struck 73 that went down as his third 50-plus score in the last six innings.
Mohammad Amir had gone wicket-less in the first two matches in the tournament. This was the first time that the left-arm pace bowler failed to pick up a wicket in two consecutive matches. However, things changed for Amir in the 32nd over of the Sri Lankan innings when Angelo Mathews dragged on a length delivery on his stumps. Amir had his first wicket of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy.
It was after the drinks break in the 32nd over that Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed resorted to a game plan Pakistan has long stood by: unleash the pacers. As the fourth-wicket stand of 78 runs between Angelo Mathews and Niroshan Dickwella threatened a big total, Amir and Junaid ripped through the Lankan middle-order, picking up four wickets in 23 balls for just six runs. Dickwella, who had posed this third consecutive 50-plus score this innings, was also removed in this window as Sri Lanka fell to 167 for 7 from 161 for 3.
Fakhar Zaman recorded an unusual six off Nuwan Pradeep’s bowling in the 9th over. On his way to his first ODI fifty, Zaman moved across his stumps with the intentions of smoking the right-armer over the mid-wicket region but edged the ball over the third-man boundary for a maximum.
Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed was given lives off Lasith Malinga’s bowling by the Sri Lankan fielders at the most crucial moments of the contest. He was put down twice: the first time by Thisara Perera in the 39th over when Pakistan required 43 from 11.4 overs, the second time by Seekkuge Prasanna on the first ball of the 40th over. He went on to lead Pakistan into the semi-finals with a Man of the Match 61 not out from 79 balls.