The first semifinal game of ICC Champions Trophy 2017 saw hosts England compete against Pakistan at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff. The two sides have not faced each other before this game. Pakistan dominated the game with the ball as pace attack produced exceptional skills of conventional and reverse swing to restrict England to a below par score of 212 runs in 50 overs. The no. 8 side in the world was written off before the start of Champions Trophy but come the big day of semis, they delivered the goods as England looked timid in their approach.
Pakistan’s performance was even more credible as the side were without their premier pacer Mohammad Amir. Rumman Raees playing his debut game delivered a superlative performance with the ball as Pakistan put on a choke-hold on England right throughout their innings. Jason Roy was dropped by England as Jonny Bairstow was slotted in as opener for this big game. Hasan Ali was once again the man for the big occasion for Pakistan with the ball in hand as he dismissed key players like Jonny Bairstow and Eoin Morgan to see England get a below-par on the board.
Pakistan stared well in the chase as Fakhar Zaman and Azhar Ali as they added 118 runs for the opening wicket. Zaman again notched up his second half century and played fearlessly despite being luck at times against short-pitch used by England bowlers. He was undone by Adil Rashid delivery to be stumped by England wicket-keeper Jos Buttler to depart after scoring 57 runs off 58 balls. Azhar continued his good work to bring up his half century and played his natural game just picking off singles while Azam played in an aggressive manner to not allow England get back into the contest.
Jake Ball dismissed Azhar for 79 runs to see Pakistan lose their second wicket with 173 runs on the board. England just didn’t have no answers on a day Pakistan dominated the whole game. Mohammad Hafeez and Babar Azam played well as they steered Pakistan to win the game by eight wickets in the 37th over.
Earlier, England batted first after Sarfaraz won the toss and opted to bowl first. Jonny Bairstow played well replacing Jason Roy in this game. Bairstow scored 43 runs but had slice of luck going his way early in his innings. Alex Hales was dismissed for 13 by Rumman Raees to see England lose their wicket. Joe Root also played uncharacteristic innings of 46 runs as England could not increase the rate of scoring as spinners put on choke on England’s batsmen. Root was dismissed by Shadab Khan while Morgan played a reckless to see England only get 212 runs from their 50 overs.
Hasan Ali was pick of the bowlers for Pakistan with three wickets as medium pacer was awarded with player of the game award.England produced excellent cricket in the ICC Champions Trophy but on a big occasion came up with a timid display with the bat to be upstaged by a spirited Pakistan side that was superb with the bat and ball.