And then there were three.
Pakistan makes it to their first ever final in the Champions Trophy. They beat England to come out on top. Rankings clearly do not matter. It is how you play on the given day and come out to express yourselves. With the way England has been playing so far in the tournament, this is most definitely a stunning victory for Pakistan. England was not who they have been since 2015. Something was missing. And Pakistan made the most of it.
Pakistan raised the bar today. Great positivism in all aspects of the game - Batting, bowling, and fielding. They made it to their first ever finals and in style. From being ranked number 8 to losing in their very first match of the tournament by 124 runs to now storming into to the grand finale - Pakistan is truly unpredictable in every way. They do not know how to follow any script, to put it simply.
When Pakistan walked in, they had a target of 212. Not at all a big score ordinarily. But then this is Pakistan we are talking about. Anything could have happened. Boy, did they surprise or what? The moment the openers hit it, an England defeat was more or less foreseeable. The partnership between Azhar Ali (76) and Fakhar Zaman (57) sealed their berth in the finals. The first wicket fell at 118. Second at 173. They reached the finishing line with almost 13 overs to spare.
Earlier in the day, Pakistan won the toss and sent the Englishmen to bat. That was a good toss to win. The bowlers and the fielders were at their best today. There were a few tense moments. Some brilliant catches. The Fakhar Catch to name a good one. Run outs. An LBW that was declared as out by the field umpire that was later recalled after review. Some excellent fielding. It was all happening out there. England was soon out for 211. Below par. Below expectations.
Hasan Ali took 3 wickets with Junaid Khan and Rumman Khan taking two each. After the third wicket, the batting lineup seemed to collapse. Nothing that England did could bring in more runs on the board. It was just not their day today. England needed early wickets to make up for the low score. They couldn’t recover. Now it’s not like Pakistan has a great reputation as chasers. But nothing could go wrong for them today. They played a composed innings, held their nerves and won emphatically.
One thing for sure. Pakistan’s captain did a fantastic Job. Both as a batsman and in rotating the bowlers regularly and strategically, Sarfaraz Ahmed did it for his team in this tournament. The pitch was sluggish. Morgan said that his team could not adapt to the conditions. Whatever the reason, they were clearly outplayed by Pakistan.
So the unpredictable beat the undefeated. Tomorrow’s match will be one to watch for. It is worth mentioning that the last three teams are all Asian. And they meet in England. And England is knocked out.