Banking on the highest 8th wicket partnership between captain Sharfaraz Ahmed (61) and Mohammad Amir (28) in the history of ICC Champions Trophy, Pakistan knocked out Sri Lanka in the last match of the group stage yesterday at Sophia Gardens here in Cardiff. The stage for the semi-finals is now set as Pakistan will now face the topper of Group A, England, at the same venue on Wednesday, while India, the leader of Group B will be up against Bangladesh on Thursday this week.
Although there are massive room for improvements, especially in the batting, Pakistan will derive a lot of moral boost from the fight that their skipper and wicketkeeper Sharfaraz Ahmed displayed along the left arm quickie Md Amir in the match against the Sri Lankans. Staring at defeat, it was the heroics of Ahmed and Amir that ensured Pakistan pulled victory from the jaws of defeat.
England, on the other hand, has by far been the bet team of this year’s Champions Trophy. Still unbeaten, Eoin Morgan’s men has toppled every opposition which includes arch rival Australia. Part from being invincible with bat and ball, England’s fielding has been no short of exemplary. With Alex Hales, Joe Root, Jos Butler, Ben Stokes and Eoin Morgan in sublime touch, no target for England seems to be bigas they Englishmen have so far decimated every bowling attack of Group A. What adds to the strength for the 3 Lions is their bowling attack. Likes of Jake Ball, Liam Plunkett and Adil Rashid has provided England with vital breakthroughs at every crunch situation.
Come the 1st semi-final on the 14th of June, England’s consistency will be up against Pakistan’s unpredictability.
The 2nd semi-final on Thursday, June 15, will witness two Asian giants, India and Bangladesh battle for a spot in the final that is scheduled on June 18 at the Oval in London. Out of the 3 matches that India played in the group stages, the men in blue registered 2 wins and a loss. The performance of ViratKohli and company was clinical in their tourney opener against arch rival Pakistan. Not only did the men n blue defeated the green brigade by a massive margin of 124 runs (D/L method), they also humbled the Proteas by 8 wickets while chasing a paltry target of 192. The only chink in the Indian armour was the loss against Sri Lanka. Despite amassing 321 runs, India failed to defend the target courtesy some wayward bowling and tactical errors. But an all-round meticulous performance on a do or die fixture against the mighty South Africans proved the mettle of the Indian team. Along with their main strength, the middle order which comprise Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni and ViratKohli, India’s openers, ShikharDhawan and Rohit Sharma have fared well too in so far.
Apart from the match against Sri Lanka, it is hard to find out any error in the Indian bowling attack. JaspritBumrah, UmeshYaadav, MdShami, RavindraJadeja and R Ashwin are all more than capable of bowling out the opposition.
Although India has comfortably beaten Bangladesh in one of the warm up matches, taking the Bangla tigers lightly will not be a wise move especially after their victory of New Zealand. Thanks to the brilliant partnership between Shakib al Hasan and Mahmudullah Riad against the Kiwis where both scored centuries, Bangladesh made it to the semi-finals of an ICC event for the first time, despite losing to England in the first match as they failed to defend a score of 300 plus. No doubt divine help played its part in Bangladesh’s successful run to the semi-final as the match against Australia was washed out, MashrafeMortaza’s men will be ready to put their best foot forward to chock their neighbours. Along with Shakib and Mahmudullah, the players to watch out for will be Mustafizur Rahman, Tamin Iqbal and the captain MashrafeMortaza himself.