Champions Trophy: Sarfraz powers shaky Pakistan to semis

Pakistan now plays England at Cardiff in the semi-final scheduled for Wednesday and Sarfaraz is hopeful to repeat what transpired during the two team's previous encounter at the same venue, last year.

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews did not pull any punches afterwards. Thisara Perera dropped a sitter at mid-on in the 39th over. The Sri Lankans were in disarray thereafter as Sarfraz was dropped again in Malinga's next over by the diving substitute fielder Seekkuge Prasanna at deep square leg. "Yes, we need to sit and talk about it and realise that if we a settled that we should take the game to the end rather than leaving it for the upcoming batsmen".

Pakistan make it to the semis on the back of a sloppy performance by Sri Lanka on Monday.

Sarfraz was dropped twice off the bowling of Malinga who was visibly furious at both efforts with Pakistan starting to look comfortable as Sri Lanka crumbled.

Ahmed held his nerve.

"We dropped three catches (Azhar Ali was put down in the first over), but there has been a genuine effort from the boys and from the support staff, and we've expressed a lot about our fielding and we've talked about it a lot".

However, Zaman was unable to add another run to his score as he was removed by Pradeep for a career-best 50 off 36 balls, which included eight boundaries and a six.

While Sarfraz, leading from front, scored unbeaten 61, Amir chipped in with crucial as the duo put up -run stand for the eighth wicket to take Pakistan home. It certainly couldn't be ignored when Shoaib Malik gloved a short ball from Malinga to the keeper. Chasing a target of 237 at one stage Pakistan were nearly out of the match with the side tottering at 137/6.

Mendis was shaping up for an encore scoring 27 off 29 balls but Hasan curtailed his stay with a length delivery bowled from wide of the crease that moved in a shade to hit the off-stump. In the end, their bats were needed, too.

There were no such errors from Pakistan with the ball though.

In what was a "must-win match" for both sides, Sri Lanka were dismissed for 236 - well below the modern-day ODI "par" total of 300. At one stage, they were at 161-3 but lost all the 7 wickets for just 75 runs.

And Sarfraz will take confidence not only from this win but also from the last meeting in Wales between the two sides when his Pakistan side beat England by four wickets. Either way, it was match-turning. Sri Lanka's position of strength was decimated in mere minutes.

Sri Lanka's tail offered some valuable resistance - not quite enough as it turned out - on a flat pitch showing some movement.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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