Pakistan have progressed to the Champions Trophy semi finals thanks to Sarfraz Ahmed’s unbeaten 61 as they beat Sri Lanka by 3 wickets in the game of the tournament so far.
In a dramatic encounter in Cardiff ,Sri Lanka had looked well on course for victory but Pakistan captain Sarfraz had other ideas, he was joined in the middle by Mohammad Amir with their team struggling on 162-7.
The pair put on an incredible unbeaten partnership of 75, which is the highest eighth wicket partnership in Champions Trophy history. A combination of careful and considered batting from Pakistan and awful fielding from Sri Lanka at the death ensured that Pakistan will be the team that takes on England on Wednesday.
Incredibly Sarfraz was dropped in successive overs from Lasith Malinga but as the pressure mounted, the Pakistan captain grew in confidence brining up his 50 with a cracking check drive boundary.
Having bowled out Sri Lanka for 236 earlier, Pakistan’s response started in confident fashion with Fakhar Zaman cracking a quick fire 50 from just 36 balls as he gave his side the perfect platform to build on.
Zaman fell to Nuwan Pradeep in the 12th over when he attempted a hook but was caught in the deep by Asela Gunaratne, Pradeep then picked up the wicket of Babar Azam for just 10 and Mohammad Hafeez was then out for 1 in the very next over to leave Pakistan struggling on 95-3.
Throughout their innings, Pakistan continued to lose wickets, opener Azhar Ali became Suranga Lakmal’s first wicket of the game as he finally went for a steady 34.
Shoaib Malik disappointed with a poor innings of only 11 runs before Malinga removed him and in the next over Imad Wasim was Pradeep’s third wicket of the day as he finished up with 3-60 from his 10 overs.
Pakistan were then reduced 162-7 when Fahim Ashraf paid the price for poor backing up as he was run out after Thisara Perera deflected the ball onto the stumps.
In came Amir who produced the perfect innings in the circumstances, he finished the game with a priceless unbeaten knock of 28.
Earlier in the day and under grey skies in the capital of Wales, Pakistan had won the toss and decided to put Sri Lanka into bat.
The first Sri Lankan wicket fell in the sixth over with Junaid Khan removing Niroshan Gunathilaka for 13, after his loose drive served up an easy catch for Shoaib Malik at mid-off.
Hasan Ali got one to nick back sharply to clean bowl Kusal Mendis for 27, and in the very next over Fahim Ashraf removed Dinesh Chandimal for a second ball duck to leave Sri Lanka struggling on 83-3.
Captain Angelo Matthews and Dickwella shared a stand of 78, before Amir wiped up Matthews for a patient 39 to spark a middle order collapse.
Sri Lanka slumped from 161-3 to 161-7 in just over four overs, as Pakistan seized control. Junaid accounted for the wicket of Dhananjaya de Silva for 1 run, and Amir picked up the crucial wicket of Dickwella for 73.
Thisara Perera was the next to fall for 1 to become Junaid’s third victim of the day as he finished up with 3-40 from his 10 overs.
Pakistan then rallied to ensure that they gave their bowlers a chance, a crucial stand of 46 between Gunaratne and Suranga Lakmal saw them go past 200, before Lakmal fell for 26 to Hasan.
Gunaratne fell to Hasan for 27 and shortly after Pradeep was caught and bowled by Ashraf for just 1 as Sri Lanka were all out for 236 after 49.2 overs.
The win caps off a remarkable turn around for Pakistan who had been written off by manay after being comfortably beaten by India in their opening group game, but wins against South Africa and now Sri Lanka means they will now take on hosts and tournament favourites England in Cardiff on Wednesday.