Monday, June 12, 2017

ICC Champions Trophy 2017 : Pakistan vs Sri Lanka

Knockout match between the two sub continent teams, Pakistan & Sri Lanka at Cardiff, surely had to be a humdinger, as the winner would enter the semis & the loser go out of the tournament.

Sarfraz won the toss & surely enough put Sri Lanka into bat on a dry, but new wicket.
Batting first, Sri Lanka did not get off to a flier, as Amir & Junaid were bowling with fire & keeping runs at check. Three wickets fell rather cheaply, as the Lankans struggled at 83 for 3 around the 15th over. Capt Mathews & opener Dickwella, then got down to construct the innings & slowly the batting recovered. But just when, they looked good for a big commanding total, they lost four wickets in a heap, & from 3 for 160 they slid to 7 for 167 in the 35th over - opportunity to get a winning total, lost. The last three wickets tried hard with Gunaratne & Lakmal getting some crucial runs under their belt, & finally the innings folded up for 236 all out - certainly well below par. Keeping in mind, that at one stage, they looked good to reach 320 - 330 runs, the Lankans surely fell short by more than 70 - 80 runs. The team, that had batted with such assurance against Indians to win the game, today, just lost their way, after building a decent platform.
For Pakistan, all the bowlers were very disciplined, with Hassan Ali & Junaid picking up three wickets each, while Amir & Fahim scalped two each.

Pakistan started their run chase, with Fakhar going on a rampage right at the start, while Sri Lankans were surprisingly way below par in fielding. Catches dropped, run outs missed, as Pakistan were merrily scoring runs & the opening pair put up 76 runs, before Fakhar was caught in the deep in the 12th over. The Lankans, did come back strongly into the match after that, & some good bowling had the Pakistan gasping for dear life, as they slid down to 7 for 162 in the 30th over, with only Capt Sarfraz as the last recognised batsman in the crease. Target looked a long long way, out of reach, with around 74 runs still to get, & the Lankans were back on top, needing just three more wickets. However, they let slip the match away from here, with some horrendous fielding, Thisara Perera, being the biggest culprit, dropping a sitter, when Sarfraz mistimed Malinga & the easiest of the catches was dropped at long on.... he was pathetic while batting, giving away his wicket cheaply & now, dropping the Pakistan Captain at such a critical juncture. This definitely was dropping the match & the tournament. More catches were dropped & runs outs missed, as Sarfraz & Amir stitched an unexpected 75 run partnership to take their team to victory & into the semis. Sarfraz, was named the Man of Match. He had his luck & he made the most of it, by taking his team to victory. It was a game, where it seemed as if both teams were trying hard to lose - Pakistan by giving simple chances & Sri Lanka by dropping them - watching the match was indeed an agony.
A game, which was nail biting alright, swinging from one side to the other, but extremely disappointing to see the Lankans field so very poorly. Lasith Malinga, who probably played his last ODI, saw with dismay, as opportunities created by him went begging.
Surely the Sri Lankan selectors will chop a few players from this team for good - most obvious of them being, Thisera Perera. They are a young unit with a lot of potential & under Angelo Mathews, they should build a strong team ahead.

The semifinal line up is complete now.
Pakistan play hosts England at the same ground, Cardiff on 14th, while India take on Bangladesh at Edgbaston on 15th. Three of the four teams are from the subcontinent, which defines their supremacy over world cricket currently.