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Match Report: Pakistan maul favourites England to reach final

In the first semi-final of ICC Champions Trophy 2017, Pakistan beat England by 8 wickets at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff. This was the first defeat for England in the tournament and the victory earned the Men in Green a richly deserved spot in the tournament final.

This is the first time in the tournament’s history that Pakistan has qualified for the Final.

Winning the toss, Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed opted to bowl first. Pakistan made two changes in the playing eleven, young leg spinner Shadab Khan replaced Fahim Ashraf and left arm pacer Rumman Raees made his ODI debut as he replaced injured Mohammad Amir.

Pakistan once again gave an impressive bowling display as the much sought after batting line-up of England could only muster a paltry 211 run total. Pacers continued their successful run as they bagged seven wickets; Hasan Ali was the tormentor-in-chief claiming three wickets in his hugely impressive spell. Rumman Raees and Junaid Khan collected two wickets each while leg spinner Shadab Khan took the key wicket of Joe Root.

A decent start by English openers ended when the debutant left arm pacer Rumman sent Alex Hales back to the pavilion, his fellow opener fell at 43 when he was caught by Mohammad Hafeez off Hasan Ali.  

The hosts reached 118-2 with captain Eoin Morgan and Joe Root at the crease. However, from there, Pakistan started their authoritative run. Root was caught behind off Shadab after scoring hard 46 runs and Morgan, at 33, was also smartly held behind the stumps by the agile Sarfaraz, the English captain was the second wicket for Hasan.

Ben Stokes tried to hold one end as there was a regular fall of wickets at the other end. Stokes scored 34 runs on 64 balls without hitting a single boundary. The frustrated all-rounder was eventually put out of his misery by the rampant Hasan.

Fakhar Zaman took a dazzling catch of Moeen Ali at deep square leg off Junaid; Adil Rashid was run out by a direct hit from Ahmed Shehzad (substitute fielder) while  Mark Wood was the final wicket that fell as he was run out by Sarfraz.

Tournament favourites lost their last eight wickets for just 83 runs.

Fakhar Zaman launched Pakistan’s chase with a series of stunning shots that left the hosts bewildered. The left-hander scored his second consecutive fifty of the tournament (57). Azhar Ali on the other end kept the partnership intact with a superb 76 run contribution which remained the highest of the innings. Fakhar and Azhar shared an opening stand of 118. Fakhar was stumped off leg spinner Adil. Azhar was bowled by Jake Ball as Pakistan neared the target.

Babar Azam and Mohammad Hafeez administered the last rites with some pugnacious stroke play. England were beaten when Hafeez pulled Stokes for the winning boundary. Pakistan gunned down the target with 8 wickets and 12.5 overs in hand.

The leading wicket taker, thus far, of the tournament Hasan Ali was announced man of the match for his match for his superb spell of bowling; the young pacer was overjoyed with the honour.

“England is a big team so we had to bowl well. The way I bowled against South Africa, I tried to bowl the same way today. Against India, things did not go well in the last few overs but Azhar Mahmood helped me and I stuck to my plans. Eoin Morgan was my favourite wicket today. It's my brother's birthday tomorrow, and I would like to dedicate this award to him.”

Scorecard: http://www.pcb.com.pk/match/30187.html