ENG vs PAK PREVIEW: Having swept aside all opposition in the group stage, hosts England are expected to face a strong pace attack when they take on Pakistan in the first semi-final of the Champions Trophy cricket on Wednesday. The Pakistan bowling attack comprising pacers Junaid Khan, Mohammad Amir, Fahim Ashraf, Hasan Ali and their lone spinner Imad Wasim will look to test the strong England batting line-up as well. Junaid Khan and Mohammad Amir were in excellent form in the previous match against Sri Lanka and will aim to recreate some of that magic against the hosts. Some of the deliveries by the duo against Sri Lanka were almost unplayable and a similar performance at the same venue on Wednesday could prove to be ominious for England. If Pakistan do manage to upstage the hosts, it will be their first appearance in the final of a 50-over International Cricket Council (ICC) tournament since losing to Australia in the title clash of the 1999 World Cup.
CONDITIONS: Even though the weather played a pivotal role at the start of the tournament, things are finally brightening up as far as the weather gods are concerned. It should be a quality show in Cardiff with both teams having quality batsmen to back their top-class bowling attack. But with the game getting the same wicket as the Pakistan versus Sri Lanka match, it could be slightly on the slower side.
SQUADS: England Playing XI: Jonny Bairstow, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan*, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood, Jake Ball
Pakistan Playing XI: Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed*, Imad Wasim, Rumman Raees, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan