Wednesday, June 14, 2017

ICC Champions Trophy 2017 : England vs Pakistan

On a sun drenched morning at Cardiff, Sarfraz won the toss & put England into bat, as the 1st semifinals of this edition of Champions Trophy got underway.

Pakistan made two bowling changes in their team, with Rumman Raees making his debut, replacing an injured Md Amir & spinner Shadab Khan coming in for Faheem Ashraf. For England their was one expected change, with out of form opening batsman Jason Ray replaced by Jonny Bairstow.
Midway though the innings, England were off to a sedate start, with score reading 118 for 2 in 25 overs. Bairstow, playing his first game got a well made 43, before holing out to an adventurous shot, & Alex Hales getting out early for just 13 runs. Next in, Capt Morgan & Joe Root, looked good to build a partnership & platform for a later assault, but they could not sustain the momentum or intensity. In fact, it was the Pakistan pace attack that showed purpose & intensity, as the English batsmen kept making cardinal errors one after the other. Wickets tumbled at regular intervals, & finally the struggle ended in the 50th over as England posted a paltry 211 runs. It was a miserable performance by the hosts, who were runaway favourites in the pre match analysis by all & sundry.
For Pakistan, Hassan Ali was once again superlative with his line & length, picking up three wickets for just 35 runs in his 10 overs, & he was ably assisted by Junaid & debutant Raees, who chipped in with two wickets apiece. It was an excellent, disciplined display by the men in green, & they executed their plans to perfection. Pakistan has a strong bowling attack, but one expected England, with such a strong batting line up, to get 250 - 270 runs at the least. Root, Bairstow, Morgan, Stokes, all got starts, but could not convert that into a big score. Stokes, in fact notched up an infamous record, when he batted for 64 deliveries, without hitting a single boundary - most by any batsman in Champions Trophy !!

With no obvious pressure of run chase, Pakistan openers started in whirlwind fashion, & at the first break for drinks after 18 overs, the score read 105 for no loss - Fakhar Zaman having completed his fifty & Azhar Ali at 42, both unbeaten & looking in no trouble. Though, both the openers got out eventually, Pakistan had no trouble to go past the target of 212 runs, as Babar Azam & Md Hafeez, took them home & completed a resounding victory in just over 37 overs. They had successfully ousted hosts & title favourites England to enter the final, for the first time. They read the pitch well & played to their strengths, & are now looking in ominous form.
The bowling is looking sharp & on the buzzer, the batting is shaping up & the intent in the field is worth applauding - the team looks organised in the middle. Hassan Ali was rightly adjusted the MAn of Match.
For England, it was a wasted opportunity - the team was good, & they were the only unbeaten team till now - but it all went down the drain, as the players committed hara-kiri of sorts to lose out.

Pakistan now await the winners of India & Bangladesh in the 2nd semifinals tomorrow.