Pakistan on Sunday riding on the back of captain Sarfraz Ahmed’s eighth wicket partnership with Mohammad Amir beat Sri Lanka by three wickets to enter the semi-final against England.
Pakistan now play the semi-final on Wednesday against Eoin Morgan’s men but they’ll need more than luck to beat the hosts.
Here are the five talking points from last night’s win against the Islanders.
How can you not love this team?
They were knocked out. They were dead and buried. They had lost for all intents and purposes. Then they came back from the dead. Mohammad Hafeez, on the eve of this game, had called this side unpredictable and had gotten a lot of slack for it.
All those who criticised him will now be using that most glorious of word to describe them — unpredictable.
All hail Sarfraz
Sarfraz Ahmed was superb as a captain. His decision to bring on Junaid Khan and Mohammad Amir in the middle overs to get a wicket changed the game on its head and restricted Sri Lanka to such a low score.
Sarfraz Ahmed was superb as a wicketkeeper. He took a blinder off Amir’s bowling and while he did drop another difficult chance, he is becoming an increasingly better glovesman.
Sarfraz Ahmed was superb as a batsman. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. He literally dragged his side, kicking and screaming, from the brink of defeat and took them over the line superbly. Lady luck did favour him but no cricketer can survive without her blessing.
The win should not hide the mistakes
At the risk of sounding like a wet blanket, it is important to point out all the things Pakistan did wrong. Azhar Ali is not fit for purpose, the middle order — Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik and Babar Azam — are all woefully out of form and the running between the wicket remains abysmal.
To make matters worse, chief selector Inzamamul Haq hasn’t really given the management much options to replace these four players. Only Ahmad Shahzad — just as slow and painful as Azhar — and Haris Sohail — clearly untrusted and without an international appearance for two years — wait in the wings.
Catches win matches
For once Pakistan were not at the receiving end of this painful yet true adage. Sarfraz Ahmed was given two reprieves, both off Lasith Malinga. He didn’t need another one to take his side over the line. A captain’s knock if ever there was one. Not a huge fan of him batting at number six but today he justified that decision.
England will be licking their lips
Pakistan may have defeated world number one South Africa and then produced this miracle to reach the semi-finals but England will be rubbing their hands and licking their lips eagerly at the prospect of playing against the Men in Green.
There are way too many chinks in the armour for the hosts to not fancy their chances. Having said that, there is no way of predicting what this side will do. A Pakistan-India final is a real possibility. The world will stop still if that does happen.
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