Pakistan booked a place in final four of ICC Champions Trophy 2017 with a thrilling victory against Sri Lanka by three wickets in a must-win game. It seemed like a typical Pakistan team’s performance where they dominated their opposition at times and made comedy of errors on other instances. Pakistan restricted the Islanders cheaply on 236 runs and later in the game they seemed like cruising to the total but suddenly they made it look like a mammoth target.
However, at the end of the day, the Men in Green stood victorious and qualified for the semi-finals, here are the things that did the trick for them.
Brilliant bowling performance
Pakistan once again bowled brilliantly. They earlier kept South Africa quiet in the tournament and last night, they tamed the Lankan Lions with class bowling. It showed that if fielders support Pakistani bowlers, they can conquer any batting line of the world. Hasan Ali and Junaid Khan three wickets each, while Mohammad Amir and Faheem Ashraf struck twice in the game.
As mentioned above, Pakistani fielders were safe against Sri Lanka. They did not give any chances to Sri Lanka’s batsman, except the debutante Faheem Ashraf dropping an easy catch at the short third man. All in all, it was one of Pakistan’s bright days in the field.
Pakistan were desperately missing an attacking opening batsman after they lost Sharjeel Khan to spot-fixing saga. It looks like Fakhar Zaman can be the man that can fill Sharjeel’s shoes of being the attacking opener. The left-handed batsman attacked Sri Lankan bowlers including the experienced Lasith Malinga from the word go. He struck a half-century on 35 deliveries that brought the required rate of just over 4.7 even lower. On the other hand, rest of Pakistan batsmen kept playing dot deliveries, but due to Fakhar’s blistering start, they never had to catch up the required rate.
Sarfraz Ahmed’s confidence
Pakistan’s newly appointed ODI skipper Sarfraz Ahmed found his team struggling for 110 for 4 when he came out to bat. With him playing at one end, Pakistan kept losing wickets from the other that included Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim and the debutante Faheem Ashraf. However, he believed in himself and also his batting partner, Mohammad Amir. He was lucky last night as Sri Lankan team’s sloppy fielding gave him a lot of chances, but as it is said, fortune favours the brave. He finished off the job with 61 runs off 79 deliveries.
Mohammad Amir, who is arguably the best bowler for Pakistan at the moment, was also the best batsman for his team against Sri Lanka. He played absolutely risk free cricket and did not give anything away. His contribution in the must-win game has probably gone understated, but it was his defiance that kept Pakistan on track and with the help of Amir, Sarfraz Ahmed steered Pakistan to a memorable win.