Cardiff: Pakistan pulled of an emphatic eight wicket win over England to storm into the finals of the Champions Trophy on Wednesday. Here are the talking points from Cardiff:
Impressive debut for Rumman Raees
Pakistan were dealt a heavy blow when Mohammad Amir was forced out of the game with a back injury. But little did they know that left-arm seamer Rumman Raees who came in as Amir’s replacement would be one of their brightest sparks with the ball alongside Hassan Ali.
Raees first sent back Alex Hales, who had just got off to a start. And later in the innings he got rid of the dangerous Liam Plunkett who can strike the big sixes with ease.
He gave away just 44 runs from his 9 overs which under the circumstances of the game was fantastic.
Jonny Bairstow grabbing his opportunity
After the repeated failures of Jason Roy at the top of the order, England captain decided to give Jonny Bairstow a go in the semis.
It was a big game for the Yorkshire man and he delivered too with a crisp 43. He hit four delightful boundaries en route and alongwith Joe Root got England from 34/1 to 80.
But then Bairstow threw his wicket away by trying to pull one to the leg side when he should have ideally carried on to get a triple figure mark.
His wicket triggered a collapse and England never quite recovered.
Sarfraz Ahmed’s prompt decisons
Sarfraz Ahmed’s captaincy has improved dramatically in the last three games. He isn’t the same man who brought Imad Wasim into at the attack against India in the second over. He has grown with his new found confidence and some of his decision were England were top notch.
First of all, he has used Hassan Ali as a strike bowler. He doesn’t give him the new ball or long spells. Sarfraz has used him in short bursts and Ali has delivered everytime. On Wednesday too he finished with figures of 3/35.
Sarfraz has also been quite attacking with his field placements. Against England even when Imad Wasim was bowling he had kept a slip in. These were unseen off prior to the tournament.
Hassan Ali shining again with the ball
Every time his captain has given him the white ball in the last three games, he has delivered. Ali is not the same bowler anymore who was belted all over the park by Indian batsmen. He has suddenly become Pakistan’s best bet with the leather.
Ali was brought into the attack when England were rebuilding the innings at 80/1. He responded almost instantly by picking up Jonny Bairstow who had propelled himself to 43. He then accounted for the likes of Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes who were the matchwinnners in the game against Australia. Ali finished with 3/35 from his 10 and was even awarded the man-of-the-match.
Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman partnership
Pakistan needed a solid start at the top of the order and that is what they precisely got. While Zaman smashed it all round the ground. Ali played second fiddle giving his partner the strike as much as possible.
The duo put on 118 runs for the first wicket but then Zaman got out. However, the damage by then was already done and England could not crawl their way back into the game.
While Zaman cracked a 58-ball 57, Ali contributed 52 to the partnership.