In a must win and a virtual quarterfinal, Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by 3 wickets on Monday at Sophia Garden, Cardiff. This victory earned Pakistan a spot in the semifinals Champions Trophy 2017.
Winning the toss, Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed opted to bowl first. Pakistan continued with a massively improved bowling show as the pacers sent the Sri Lankan batting line back to the pavilion before the end of the last over of the innings. Sri Lanka managed to post a total of 236.
Looking for a good start, Sri Lankan openers started well but Junaid Khan put a dent to the progress as the left arm pacer took first wicket of the innings with 26 runs on the board.
Later, the duo of Hasan Ali and debutant Fahim Ashraf disrupted the Sri Lankan progress picking two wickets for the addition of a single run.
Opener Niroshan Dickwella and Captain Angela Mathews added stability to the innings as the pair added 78 runs for the fourth wicket.
The dangerous looking partnership was broken by Mohammad Amir who bowled Mathews to mark his maiden wicket of the tournament. This lead to a sensational middle order collapse as Sri Lanka from 161 for four crashed to 167 for seven courtesy a fiery spell of bowling by Amir and Junaid.
Asela Gunaratne and Suranga Lakmal brought some semblance of respectability to the innings by adding 46 runs to the total before Lakmal was bowled by Hasan. Sri Lanka lost the remaining three wickets in desperation to score quick runs as the overs ran out.
Dickewlla was the leading runs scorer with 73, whereas Hasan and Junaid topped the bowling figures with three wickets each. Debutant Fahim picked up two wickets and Amir bagged two wickets.
Chasing 237, Pakistan openers started decently with left-hander Fakhar Zaman continuing with his good form, Fakhar struck his maiden ODI fifty, which was also second fastest 50 of the tournament.
After Pakistan lost Fakhar at 74 they suffered a collapse of their own as Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, and Shoaib Malik only added 22 runs between them before walking back to the pavilion. Azhar Ali also got caught at slips after scoring a snail paced 34.
Captain Sarfraz walked into bat when wickets were falling on the other end, he along with Fahim tried to consolidate the innings again after Pakistan lost its sixth wicket at 137. The pair of Sarfraz and Fahim added 25 runs to the total and Pakistan started to look in better position, however, the unfortunate run-out of Fahim at 162 brought Sri Lanka back in the game.
Amir and Sarfraz joined hands in what turned out to be a match winning alliance, the pair added 75 invaluable runs and the partnership took Pakistan home.
Amir scored a gritty 28 runs and Sarfraz completed his seventh ODI fifty scoring a memorable match winning 61 run innings. Pakistan eventually chased down the total in 45th over of the innings.
Sarfraz Ahmed was awarded man of the match for his match winning innings; the Pakistan captain was ecstatic with his team’s win. “Mohammad Amir played really well, I just told him to play his game and not to worry about the score. I believed that if we took it to the 40th over, we could win the match.”
Pakistan, meanwhile, were fined for a slow over-rate after they were ruled to be one over short of the target when time allowance was taken into consideration. Sarfraz was fined 20 per cent of his match fee, while the rest of the team received 10 per cent fines.
Photos courtesy ICC