Pakistan’s Sarfraz Ahmed and Mohammad Amir put on a record eighth-wicket stand of 75 to take their team through to the semi-finals of the ICC Champions Trophy at the expense of Sri Lanka.
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
Sarfraz was dropped twice in the closing stages from the bowling of Lasith Malinga but rode his luck to finish unbeaten on 61 from 79 balls, having found a reliable partner in Amir (28o from 43) as the Pakistanis reached their target of 237 with 31 balls and three wickets to spare.
Not a convincing win though, still makes them through to semi’s with the best 8th wicket partnership among Sarfaraz and M Aamir
But Sarfraz and Amir’s rescue act turned the tide in a thrilling contest, the pair picking singles amid some hazardous running and finding the rope at crucial intervals to see their team home.
Pakistan began the run chase favorites after earlier restricting Sri Lanka to 236 all out.
Opening batsman Niroshan Dickwella made a fine 73 as Sri Lanka’s innings showed early promise, but the Pakistanis came roaring back into the contest thanks to some fine bowling from Hasan Ali (3-42), Junaid Khan (3-40) and Mohammad Amir (2-53).
Sarfraz won the toss and Junaid got the early breakthrough, removing Danushka Gunathilaka for 13 before Kusal Mendis (27) and Dinesh Chandimal (0) fell in quick succession.
Dickwella, who had earlier signaled his attacking intentions with a stunning scoop shot for four, teamed up with captain Angelo Mathews (39) and for a while, it looked as if the Sri Lankans were on track for a sizeable total.
Sri Lanka had looked almost certain to progress when Pakistan’s middle-order fell to 7-162 following a blazing start from Fakhar Zaman (50 from 36), with the middle-order trio of Babar Azam (10), Mohammad Hafeez (1) and Shoaib Malik (11) all failing to make an impact on proceedings.
And when Imad Wasim was out for four and debutant Fahim Ashraf (15) was run-out after being slow to react at the non-striker’s end, Pakistan looked like producing one of their famous implosions.
At 3-161 in the 32nd over, Amir knocked over Mathews to claim his first wicket of the tournament and trigger a dramatic collapse of four wickets for just six runs.
Amir took a second while Junaid took two more as the pace pair followed Hasan’s lead, extracting movement from the pitch and through the air in an impressive display of fast bowling.
Asela Gunaratne (27) and Suranga Lakmal (26) put on 46 for the eighth wicket to help Sri Lanka post what was, in the end, a moderate total, but the island nation will need an outstanding bowling effort if they’re to progress through to the semi-finals.