Pakistan produced one of their greatest performances on the world stage as they demolished England by 8 wickets to reach the Champions Trophy final in emphatic style at a sun drenched Cardiff.
A superb performance with the ball led by Hasan Ali was backed up by a strong and patient display with the bat, as they put the tournament favourites to the sword to set up an all Asian final at the Oval on Sunday.
Big scores from Azhar Ali 76 and Fakhar Zaman 57, ensured Pakistan made light work of the 212 needed for victory, as the England bowlers paid the price for the teams weak performance with the bat.
During the English innings Ali was the pick of the attack, accounting for the wickets of Eoin Morgan, Joe Root and Ben Stokes. He finished up with 3-35 and was backed up by Junaid Khan 2-42 and debutant Rumman Raees shone with 2-44.
The Pakistan spin attack were superb also with only 49 runs coming from 13 overs bowled between them.
Defending their below par total England struggled with to make a much needed breakthrough early on, as Ali and Zaman timed their approach perfectly.
A opening stand of 121 all but killed off any hope of England making a contest of the game late on, Zaman fell to Adil Rashid as Jos Butler stumped him for an impressive 57.
Jake Ball clean bowled Ali for 76 as England rallied late on but in truth the damage had been done earlier in the day. England lost their discipline late on as Pakistan won out comfortably with 77 balls left in the innings.
Earlier in the day Pakistan subdued England and produced one of the greatest one day bowling performances in living memory.
Hasan led his team with a terrific man of the match performance as Pakistan produced some fantastic death bowling with Hasan finishing up with a superb effort of 3-35 from his 10 overs despite struggling with injury.
After winning the toss and electing to field, Pakistan thought they’d got Alex Hales out when debutant Raees trapped him leg before but the ball had pitched outside leg on review.
Hales’ reprieve only lasted until Raees’ very next over, as he served up as easy catch for the fielder in the cover to get Raees off the mark on the international stage.
Bairstow was then dropped on 27 as Raees continued to cause the top order issues, he was then given another chance on 42 with Babar Azam dropping him in the slip off the bowling of Shadab Khan.
But Pakistan were finally able to remove the returning Bairstow on the third attempt with Hasan Ali accounting for him in his first over with Mohammed Hafeez taking a simple catch at square leg.
Captain Morgan joined Root in the middle and Morgan successfully over turned an out decision, after he’d attempted a reverse sweep off the bowling of Shadab, but the spin bowler was able to remove the key wicket of Root in his next over.
Root was caught behind as he attempted to cut one but it offered up an easy catch for Sarfraz behind the stumps. England’s match winners’ against Australia on Saturday of Stokes and Morgan were now at the crease and were growing frustrated as the Pakistan spin attack controlled the middle period of the innings.
The counter punch came in the form of pace from Hasan, as Morgan nicked one behind to depart for a frustrating 33 from 53 balls.
The dominance from the Pakistan bowling attack continued as they pressed England with some superb variance in their attack.
Jos Butler came and went quickly for just 4 runs as Junaid Khan picked up his first wicket of the day and he then removed Moeen Ali for 11 thanks to a superb catch from Fakhar Zaman to leave England struggling at 162-6.
Stokes kept on plugging away but was unable to take any risks as England struggled to find the boundary, and to compound their woes Rashid was run out for 7.
Stokes carried on plugging away in ones and twos but without finding the boundary he hauled out to Hasan for a frustrating 34 from 64 balls to leave England reeling on 201-8.
Raees removed Plunkett for 9 as he finished his debut with an impressive 2-38 as Mark Wood was run in the final over to compound a below par performance with the bat from England.
Their total of 211 all out saw some incredible bowling from Pakistan who despite a number of fielding issues early on, incredibly they restricted England to no boundaries in the final 11 overs.
Having headed into the clash as big favourites England will be hugely disappointed to have gone out on a whimper, but Pakistan’s resurgence continues to gather pace.
Pakistan were superb throughout and played the perfect one day game, coming into the tournament as the lowest ranked team they have defied the odds especially after they’d been easily beaten by India during their opening group match.
But Micky Arthur’s men have reformed and have put in three outstanding performances to make the final where India or Bangladesh await them, one thing is for certain do not write this Pakistan team off.