Monday, February 19, 2018 | ePaper

Sarfraz proud as `no chance` Pakistan reach final

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AFP, Cardiff :
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed insisted he always believed his side could turn their fortunes around after they reached the Champions Trophy final with a dominant eight-wicket win over England in Cardiff.
Pace bowler Hasan Ali took three wickets as Pakistan dismissed England, the only unbeaten team left in the tournament, for a mere 211.
In marked contrast to their nail-biting chase in a three-wicket, virtual quarter-final, win over Sri Lanka in Cardiff on Monday, Pakistan then cruised to a total of 215 for two with a mammoth 77 balls to spare.
Azhar Ali (76) and Fakhar Zaman (57) dismissed England's attack to all parts of Sophia Gardens in an opening stand of 118.
What made Wednesday's win all the more impressive was that it came just 10 days after Pakistan launched their Champions Trophy campaign with a woeful 124-run hammering by arch-rivals India.
But just three days later Pakistan, the lowest-ranked side in a tournament featuring the world's top eight one-day international teams bounced back to defeat number one South Africa.
Now Pakistan could have a chance for revenge against India in Sunday's final at the Oval if the title-holders beat Bangladesh in Thursday's second semi-final at Edgbaston.
"It is a cause of great pride and happiness for myself and for the entire Pakistan nation," said Sarfraz after the semi-final triumph.
"It was a team no one gave a chance, neither here nor back home," added the 30-year-old wicket-keeper, whose 61 not out was key to the victory over Sri Lanka.
"No one thought we'd reach the final."
Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur said before the semi-final that if his side played their "best game" they could "put pressure" on England.
And they did so in style, despite being without injured left-arm quick Mohammad Amir because of a back spasm.
"Today was a perfect performance from all departments," said Azhar.
"The bowlers did extremely well and got us in a very good position.

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