Pakistan beat Sri Lanka to qualify for Champions Trophy semi-finals

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CARDIFF: Sarfraz Ahmed produced a superb captain’s innings following a top-order collapse to see Pakistan into the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy with a three-wicket win over Sri Lanka at Cardiff on Monday.
Pakistan, chasing a seemingly modest 237 to win, collapsed to 162 for seven.
However, an unbroken stand of 75 between Sarfraz, dropped twice on his way to 61 not out, and Mohammad Amir (28 not out) saw Pakistan complete a thrilling win.
Other than the opener Fakhar Zaman, none of Pakistan’s middle-order batsman could perform to capitalize on the strong opening stand provided by Zaman.
Babar Azam, Hafeez and Azhar disappointed Pakistani fans while all-rounders Shoaib Malik and Imad Wasim too could not stay on the pitch for long.
It was the 75 run invincible partnership between bowler Mohammad Amir and captain Sarfraz which saw Pakistan home.
Pakistan will return to Sophia Gardens for a last-four clash with tournament hosts England in Cardiff on Wednesday.
Earlier, Pakistan induced a middle-order collapse as Sri Lanka slumped to 236 all out.
Both Pakistan and Sri Lanka had to win on Monday to join already qualified title-holders India from Group B in the knockout stages of a tournament featuring the world’s top eight one-day international sides.
Pakistan started their group campaign with a woeful 124-run defeat by arch-rivals India but bounced back to defeat top-ranked South Africa before this success against Sri Lanka.
India will play Bangladesh in Thursday’s second semi-final at Edgbaston, with the final at the Oval on Sunday.
Earlier Pakistani pacers sent back the whole Sri Lankan team to pavilion on 236 after Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and elected to field against Sri Lanka.
Both sides need a victory to join already qualified title-holders India from Group B in the last four of a tournament featuring the world’s top eight one-day international sides, with the losers knocked out.
Sri Lanka, sent in to bat, were making steady progress at 161 for three while opener Niroshan Dickwella (73) and skipper Angelo Mathews (39) were at the crease.
However, the loss of Mathews sparked a middle-order collapse that saw four wickets lost for just six runs as Sri Lanka slumped to 167 for seven.
Only same late tail-order hitting, with the last three wickets adding 69 runs, got Sri Lanka past 200 in an innings where Pakistan pacer Hasan Ali and Junaid Khan took three wickets apiece.
Pakistan started their group campaign with a woeful 124-run defeat by arch-rivals India but bounced back to defeat top-ranked South Africa before this success against Sri Lanka.
India will play Bangladesh in Thursday’s second semi-final at Edgbaston, with the final at the Oval on Sunday.

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