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ICC Champions Trophy: England need to be wary of unpredictable Pakistan in semifinal clash

England are the only unbeaten team in the tournament so far

Utathya Nag utathya10 14 June 2017, 6:06 PM
Pakistan beat Sri Lanka and South Africa to book a place in the semis

Pakistan beat Sri Lanka and South Africa to book a place in the semis Image: AFP

In-form England might have the upper hand against Pakistan in the ICC Champions Trophy final but the hosts will need to be wary of the unpredictable nature of Sarfraz Ahmed's men.

England are the only unbeaten side in the tournament so far and will be looking to make their home advantage count when they take on Pakistan at the Sophia Gardens later today.

However, the Green Brigade themselves boast a formidable pace attack more than capable of taking advantage of seamer-friendly English conditions. Pakistan managed to bundle out a formidable Sri Lankan batting line-up for 236 runs in their last Group B match after deciding to bowl first at the Cardiff Wales Stadium at the same venue on Monday.

The Pakistan bowling attack, comprising of pacers Junaid Khan, Mohammad Amir, Fahim Ashraf, Hasan Ali and their lone spinner Imad Wasim will look to test the strong England batting line-up as the two sides lock horns for a spot in the final.

Junaid Khan and Mohammad Amir were in excellent form in the previous match against Sri Lanka and will aim to recreate some of that magic against the hosts.

Some of the deliveries by the duo against Sri Lanka were almost unplayable and a similar performance at the same venue on Wednesday could prove to be ominous for England.

If Pakistan do manage to upstage the hosts, it will be their first appearance in the final of a 50-over International Cricket Council (ICC) tournament since losing to Australia in the title clash of the 1999 World Cup.

The last time they qualified for a 50-over ICC tournament semifinal was at the 2011 World Cup when they lost a thriller to arch-rivals India in Mohali.

However, Pakistan's power-packed line-up of fast bowlers is offset to some extent by the lack of firepower in their batting.

Most of the Pakistan batsmen have struggled during the group matches. Skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed and opener Fakhar Zaman are the only Pakistan batsmen who have shown some kind of form in this tournament.

Sarfaraz struck an unbeaten 61 runs in the must-win game against Sri Lanka, which Pakistan won by three wickets to qualify for the last-four stage.

England, on the other hand, were the dominant team in Group A. They dominated teams like Australia, Bangladesh and New Zealand in home conditions for an all-win record in the group stage and will look to maintain their winning streak.

England's batting line-up, boasting the likes of Alex Hales, Joe Root, Eoin Morga, Ben Stokes and Jos Butler, has looked to be in an impressive form thus far.

Joe Root also sits among the top run scorers in the ongoing ICC Champions Trophy scoring 212 runs in three matches with the highest score of an unbeaten 133 against Bangladesh.

England's bowling department has also looked good, with pacers Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood, Jake Ball, Ben Stokes and their spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali consistently delivering for their side.

England lead the head-to-head battle with a 6-4 record against Pakistan in ICC tournaments. The last time Pakistan defeated England in an ICC event was in 1996.

(With inputs from IANS)

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