Champions Trophy: Captain Sarfraz powers Pakistan into semis

Champions Trophy: Captain Sarfraz powers Pakistan into semis

Champions Trophy: Captain Sarfraz powers Pakistan into semis

In the game which had the most riding on it all tournament, Pakistan and Sri Lanka provided a spectacle befitting the magnitude of the occasion, and Pakistan sneaked across the line with a thrilling three-wicket win.

But such promise rapidly evaporated as Pakistan lost wickets cheaply, not helping themselves through some poor shot choices. "If we can play the brand of cricket we played against India, we certainly can make it", a confident Mathews said.

It was a gripping match which saw Pakistan through to the first semi-final of the Champions Trophy, to be played against England on this same ground.

Given the carnage of those few overs, Gunaratne and Lakmal did brilliantly well to lift the Sri Lankan score beyond 200 with their 46-run stand for the eighth wicket before Hasan and Fahim eventually mopped up the tail to end the innings. Hasan Ali's brilliance with the ball, finding annul swing where most other bowlers in the tournament have been unable to, galvanized Pakistan and Junaid Khan's left-arm swing proved a hard proposition with the new ball too. For Sri Lanka, Nuwan Pradeep sealed three wickets for 60 runs. Sri Lanka has had to call in Dhananjaya de Silva to replace the injured Kusal Perera, who picked up a hamstring injury during Sri Lanka's massive win against India.

Captain Angelo Mathews (39) came to the rescue and helped his side recover from the double strike as he and Dickwella steadied the ship and then upped the scoring rate.

By beating Sri Lanka, Pakistan became the fourth and final team to advance to the semis of this year's competition, with Bangladesh set to clash against India in the other fixture.

Sarfraz shared the nerve-racking last 75-run partnership with Mohammad Amir, who hung on for 28 not out.

Pakistan looked well set to pick off the target and progress easily, particularly as Azhar Ali and Fakhar Zaman built a telling partnership based on precision placement and quick running between the wickets.

Pakistan's bowling is clearly their strength and it has played an instrumental role in both of their victories in the tournament so far. He was reprieved by Thisara Perera on 38 and by substitue fielder Seekkuge Prasanna on 40.

It may sound amusing, but Zainab, who is a sports journalist from Pakistan, has been proving to be a jinx for all the players with whom she has been taking selfies, at least Twitterati believes so. We hadn't got the runs on the board but we knew we could defend this.

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