Cometh the hour, cometh the man! Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed played a captain's knock as Pakistan edged out continental rivals Sri Lanka by three wickets to enter the semi-final in Cardiff on Monday.
Sarfraz took to the crease in as early as the 20th over of the innings when the top four batsmen were dismissed and it looked like Pakistan had made a hash of an easy chase. The team was reeling at 110-4 with Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammed Hafeez and Azhar Ali, all dismissed.
Pakistan needed a big innings from their skipper and he provided just the same. Sarfraz kept the scoreboard ticking early on in the innings by taking singles and doubles and hit occasional boundaries as well.
However, wickets continued to tumble on the other end as Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim and Fahim Ashraf departed in quick succession. Sarfraz ensured he didn't threw his wicket away as well and kept Pakistan in the hunt by putting on brilliant partnership with Mohammad Amir.
The required rate was never a cause of concern and Sarfraz made full use of that by relying mostly on singles and doubles in his innings. Not only that, he made Amir play a calculative innings on the other end as well and kept chatting with him throughout the course of the chase. The duo also broke the record of highest ever partnership for the eight wicket in Champions Trophy history (75*).
Sarfraz (61*) slammed his first half-century of the tournament which included five boundaries. The skipper was also helped by Sri Lanka fielders who dropped two crucial chances in the final overs of the chase. In the end, Pakistan chased down the target with 31 balls to spare as Sarfraz snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
"I can't believe it. It is an unbelievable feeling. Thanks to Amir, he played really well. I told him to play his game and not to worry about the scoreboard. Even if we go 3-4 runs per over, if we go close to 30 runs, we will win. I think it was a tough chase. Amir was playing confidently, but I was feeling the pressure," said Sarfraz after scripting this famous victory.