Pakistan punish errant England to enter maiden CT final


Although England seem a highly settled unit with its balance of excellent all-rounders, dynamic batsmen and deadly bowlers, Pakistan have time and again proved to be the most unpredictable team in the game of cricket.

While Pakistan may be tempted to exploit England's historical problems playing spin, it is their fast bowlers who have led to their success in this tournament.

PROBABLE ENGLAND XI: Roy/Bairstow, Hales, Root, Morgan (c), Stokes, Buttler (wk), Ali, Rashid, Plunkett, Wood, Ball. Despite, missing out on Chris Woakes, they still look all bases covered, courtesy the all-round ability of Stokes. England selectors look like they've bitten the bullet with the form of Jason Roy as he is expected to be dropped for the semi-final clash in favor of Jonny Bairstow. Adil Rashid was back in the hut after a direct hit from substitute Ahmed Shehzad at the non-striker's end.

8 Three-wicket hauls by Hasan in 20 ODIs, including three in his last three games - 3 for 24 against South Africa, 3 for 43 against Sri Lanka and 3 for 35 in this match. Fakhar Zaman could be the only bright spark for Pakistan at the top of the order while skipper Sarfraz Ahmed has the ability to thrive under pressure situations.

Pakistan will be boosted by Sarfraz's match-winning knock in the team's three-wicket win over Sri Lanka, which put them into the semis. While the win against the Proteas was a convincing one, they just about managed to eke out a narrow win against Sri Lanka. The locals, England, along with three Southern Asia teams: Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, made it through to the last four. In England, the home side have won 26 out of the 41 games and this will be the first time, the two sides will face in a Champions Trophy game. Mickey Arthur, Pakistan's coach said his team will not settle for anything less.

Pakistan - who are the lowest ranked team in the tournament - could now gain revenge over India for their opening-game defeat, but only if Virat Kohli's side can overcome Bangladesh in the second semi-final on Thursday. Rain forced the match to be abandoned when England were 24-1 at after eight overs.

Skipper Morgan then joined Root and the duo batted with goal to bring up the hundred in 21.4 overs.

Morgan has continually backed the usually bombastic Roy, hailing him as one of the pillars of England's resurgence in the 50-over format in the two years since their shocking World Cup display.

Already 4-0 down in the five-match series in August and September past year - which included that shellacking at Trent Bridge - Pakistan gained a measure of pride with a consolation victory in Cardiff, the same venue for Wednesday's semifinal. At the top of the tree on that list is English pacer Liam Plunket, who has had a tournament to remember.

Pakistan: 1. Fakhar Zaman, 2, Azhar Ali, 3.