Sarfaraz Ahmed shines with bat as Pakistan edge out Sri Lanka in tight contest

In a must-win game, Pakistan produced with clinical performance with the ball to upstage Sri Lanka by 3 wickets at Cardiff to setup a semifinal against England in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. Pakistan’s pace attack took all the wickets as Sri Lanka lost the plot in the middle overs after being comfortably placed at 161 for 3 after 31 overs.

Pakistan started the chase well as Fakhar Zaman and Azhar Ali added 74 runs in first 10 overs. Zaman was aggressor in the partnership as he scored a brisk 36 ball 50 runs to see Pakistan get off to a flier. He fell for 50 runs as Nuwan Pradeep had him dismissed in 11th over. Babar Azam and Mohammad Hafeez failed to score runs as Pakistan slumped to 93 for 3 after 16.5 overs. Azhar Ali gave his wicket away after scratching his way to 34 runs off 50 balls.

Sri Lanka came back into the contest as Lasith Malinga dismissed Shoaib Malik for 11 while Imad Wasim also did not make an impression to see Pakistan reeling at 137 for 6. Faheem Ashraf started well as he played aggressive strokes to push on the rate of scoring.

Sarfaraz Ahmed bailed the side out of trouble once again as he scored unbeaten 61 runs off 79 balls to see Pakistan escape with a win. Pakistani skipper did have slice of luck going his way as Sri Lanka dropped him twice to see the game swing in favor of Pakistan. Mohammad Amir played a nice hand at the other end as he and Sarfaraz Ahmed put on unbeaten 75 run partnership to see Pakistan win the game and qualify for the semifinals of Champions Trophy alongside England, India and Bangladesh.

Earlier in the day, Sri Lanka got off to a decent start as Kusal Mendis and Niroshan Dickwella produced 56-run partnership to lay down a solid foundation for the side. Mendis was dismissed by superb in-dipper by medium pacer Hasan Ali to see Sri Lanka lose their second wicket. Angelo Matthews added 78 runs with Dickwella to see Sri Lanka placed in a box seat with 160 runs on the board after 30 overs. But Pakistan pegged things back as pace duo of Junaid Khan and Mohammad Amir struck in successive overs to see Islanders go from 160 for 3 to 167 for 7 in a space of five overs. The lower order no resistance as Sri Lanka could only manage 236 runs from their 50 overs.

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