Sarfraz steers Pakistan past Sri Lanka into Champions Trophy semifinals


It will be Pakistan's second key match at Sophia Gardens in a matter of days after a tense three-wicket victory over Sri Lanka there on Monday saw them into the last four of a tournament featuring the world's top eight one-day worldwide (ODI) sides.

Pakistan, would now play against England in the first semi final, on June 14, Wednesday at Cardiff.

Pakistan suffered a collapse in the middle overs in chase against Sri Lanka.

He, however, did not look satisfied with the manner Pakistan won against Sri Lanka on Monday and wanted the boys to do even better.

If Monday's must win clash between the two sub-continent teams yields no result due to rain, then India and South Africa are likely to go through to the semi-finals.

Sri Lankan seamers, led by Nuwan Pradeep (three for 60), produced a disciplined bowling performance but some sloppy fielding, which included two drop catches of Sarfraz, cost them the match.

Niroshan Dickwella was the top scorer for Sri Lanka with his 73 runs innings while the partnership between Asela Gunaratne and Suranga Lakmal down the batting order helped their team to go past 200-run mark.

Two wickets in three balls, however, did not bother Sri Lanka much as Dickwella remained solid at the other end and soon completed his half-century with a single off Mohammed Hafeez.

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Hasan Ali (3/43) was another Pakistani paceman who made an impact at the start of the innings.

Two balls later, medium-pacer Fahim Ashraf struck on his ODI debut when Dinesh Chandimal played on for a duck.

All-rounder Mathews, fresh from an unbeaten fifty in Sri Lanka's shock seven-wicket victory over India, drove off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez for six, while Dickwella ended a sequence of 54 balls without a boundary by cover-driving left-arm spinner Imad Wasim for four. Then Mathews was bowled by Mohammad Amir for 39 and soon three wickets fell for just six runs.

In what turned out to be a brilliant all-round match for wicket-keeper Sarfraz, he held a superb low one-handed catch to dismiss Dickwella after the batsman got an inside edge to Amir.

EXTRAS (B-1, LB-5, W-12, NB-1) 19 TOTAL (all out, 49.2 overs) 236 FALL OF WKTS: 1-26, 2-82, 3-83, 4-161, 5-162, 6-162, 7-167, 8-213, 9-232.

"A journey that would take one hour to get to your destination, will take five minutes", predicted Habibul Bashar, one of Dhaka's more famous residents.

He is probably right when he says that very few may have expected three Asian teams in the last four, but it has happened and now Asian fans would be hoping for a repeat of the "mother of all battles" if India take on Pakistan in the finals.