Sarfraz the hero as Pakistan squeeze into Champions Trophy semis

Sarfraz the hero as Pakistan squeeze into Champions Trophy semis

England promise to pose a stiff challenge for Pakistan, particularly on home soil, and both teams have only two days’ rest before they return to the action at Sophia Gardens. It was in rough seas and Ahmed couldn’t afford to be seasick.

“If you look at the game we started well but after Fakhar Zaman got out we lost the momentum and then most of our dismissals were soft which definitely is an area of concern for us”, ESPNcricinfo quoted Sarfraz as saying in the post-match press conference.

The victory sets up a mouthwatering clash with England in the last four with India playing Bangladesh at Edgbaston on Thursday. The final is on Sunday.

Sarfraz Ahmed: No, we have no issue, I think. “I said to Amir to play your game, to not worry”.

Any early hope of them pinning Pakistan’s reply on to the back foot were threatened by a 34-ball half-century from Zaman, but things began to change when Pakistan lost him, Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali in quick succession, while adding just 18 runs.

Sri Lanka’s tail offered some valuable resistance but its batsmen have made it hard work for their own bowlers on a flat pitch showing some movement.

“After the way we started we could have finished this game with six or seven wickets in hand but those dismissals really dented us”. If we had held those catches, it would have been a different story today, especially at very crucial times – first over, and towards the end, where we let go of Sarfraz was very crucial. Pumped by India in the opener, his side are through to the final four.

Man-of-the-match Ahmed, crucially dropped twice, ended the contest when he uppercut Lasith Malinga for four.

Not even being fined afterwards for a slow over-rate would have dented Pakistan’s celebrations. Sarfraz pleaded guilty to the offence and accepted the proposed sanction, so a formal hearing was not required.

Pakistan was brilliant with the ball and was able to restrict Sri Lanka at a mere 236 in 49.2 overs.

Pakistan scored 237-7 in 44.5 overs.

Pakistan owes it to its pugnacious captain and the icy cool Amir for a memorable win in a match that it dominated, yet had to put in a mighty struggle to win”.

Sarfraz heaped praise on Mohammad Amir for hanging on till the end as they shared a 75-run partnership for the eighth wicket. Hasan Ali (3/43) also bowled brilliantly.

Sent in by Sarfraz, they were making steady progress at 161 for three while top-scorers Dickwella (73) and captain Angelo Mathews (39) were together at the crease.

After winning a crucial toss in overcast conditions, Pakistan’s seamers hit their lines well but Sri Lanka’s openers countered the accuracy by targeting the short straight boundaries.

England lead the head-to-head battle with a 6-4 record against Pakistan in ICC tournaments.

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed is wary of the threat posed by England ahead of Wednesday’s Champions Trophy semi-final in Cardiff.