Sarfraz sees shaky Pakistan into semi-finals

The Champions Trophy might have been damp and lifeless on the English shores this year, but it was on a Welsh detour that it finally roared to life. 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 that’s only half the story. The rest centered around how madly the momentum of this game swung as two obviously flawed teams battled tooth and nail.
Qualification to the semis was the prize riding on this game that was a quarter-final in all but name, and it was clear both sides wanted it desperately. Sri Lanka started impressively but a brilliant spell midway from Mohammad Amir and Junaid Khan restricted them to 236. Pakistan made the chase look harder than it was but captain Sarfraz Ahmed and Amir were there at the end to see their side home. Though the prospect of facing England in three days time will be daunting, it will be the last thing on their minds right now.

From the moment Pakistan’s seventh wicket fell – with 75 still to win – two antsy sides were hoping they could do just about enough to pip the other. Sri Lanka were the favourites at that point, but their fielding let them down badly. Thisara Perera dropped a sitter at mid-on in the 39th over. Substitute fielder Seekkuge Prasanna shelled another chance – albeit a more difficult one – in the 41st. And Sarfraz, the reprieved batsman, the last of the specialists, took the game away.

Lasith Malinga, Sri Lanka’s great talisman, had created both chances and if this is to be his final ICC tournament, it was a cruel way to go. He watched, helplessly, as his team began to gift overthrows, and little by little, the belief as well to the Pakistan batsmen. By the time a dispirited Malinga was brought back for his final over, the fielding had disintegrated to amateurish level. Eventually, Sarfraz dabbed him over third man for the winning runs, and a shocking last half hour for the Sri Lankans met the end it deserved.
Source : EspnCricinfo

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