Pakistan defy all odds, cruise to Champions Trophy final after outshining England

It seemed Pakistani batsmen were batting on a different pitch during the chase as they cruised to complete the target in 37.1 overs, after openers Azhar Ali (76 off 100) and Fakhar Zaman (57 off 58) provided a ideal start.

England came into the Champions Trophy with high hopes and had won 11 of their previous 12 ODIs before Wednesday's reverse.

Bowled out for 211 in 49.5 overs after losing the toss, any chuntering about the rough end of conditions should have dissipated when Pakistan cruised to their target with 77 balls to spare for the loss of two wickets.

Pakistan bowlers chipped away at the wickets at regular intervals and aided by some good fielding, curtailed England for what was their lowest total in the tournament.

Pakistan had to go into the match without main strike bowler Mohammad Amir but it did not miss him, with Rumman Raees slotting in to replace the 25-year-old. Ali was complimented well by Juniad Khan and debutant Rumman Raees, who chipped in with two wickets each.

On Sunday, the final at The Oval will be an all-subcontinent affair as Pakistan will take on either defending champion India or Bangladesh, who meet in the other semifinal on Thursday.

India defeated Pakistan by 124 runs (D/L method) in the group match.

"Hopefully, he will recover for the finals", Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed said.

Former spinner Saqlain Mushtaq wished the team for the final and said:"Great win pakistan stay blessed all our prayers and wishes for the final".

It began a regular fall of wickets around Ben Stokes, who failed to find the boundary in a 64-ball 34. "I just told the players if you take it as "the semi-final", the pressure will be going very hard, but if you think it's just another match the pressure will ease off", he added. "We knew that we were going to play on a used wicket at some stage in this tournament, and we found out the other day that today was going to be on a used wicket".

Even with its best team in a generation, England won't be ending its trophy drought in global 50-over competitions this year.

But within touching distance of a first global 50-over title after three victories in the group stage, they crumbled limply to 211 all out and the bowlers failed to fire as Pakistan strolled to their target with almost 13 overs to spare. Pakistan outplayed us. It was a used pitch but you should be able to play on all kinds of surface at this level.

"I think (Hasan) had a little bit shin problem, but he's okay and bowling extremely well for us", the skipper said.

A good start was needed from the home bowlers for them to stand any real chance of victory, but after Mark Wood's first ball of the innings went down the leg side to be given as a wide, the tone was set.



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