Pakistan rode on skipper Sarfraz Ahmed’s unconquered 61 to recover from a middle-order collapse and pull off a three-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in a virtual quarter-final Group B ICC Champions Trophy clash at Sophia Gardens here on Monday to qualify for the semifinals.
Chasing 237 for a triumph, fast bowler Mohammad Amir (28 not out) showed great resolve to stitch together an unbeaten 75-run stand with Sarfraz for the eighth wicket to help his side register the win in a see-saw battle. At one point, Sri Lanka had their rivals on the mat at 162/7 but had poor fielding and dropped chances to blame for their loss.
Pakistan, which chased the target in 44.5 overs, got off to a rollicking start riding young southpaw Fakhar Zaman’s quickfire 36-ball 50 but Nuwam Pradeep (3/60) put a spanner on his works by getting him out just when he was looking very good.A
The opening pair between ZamanAand Azhar Ali stitched together a 74-run partnership.
Ali’s dogged (34; 50b; 2×4 1×6) came to a premature end also after Babar Azam (10; 18b; 1×4) and Mohammad Hafeez (1) failed to contribute.
Pakistan lost the middle order in a hurry with seasoned campaigner Shoaib Malik (11; 20b 1×4 0x6), Imad Wasim (4) and Fahim Ashraf (15; 15b; 1×4, 1×6) not lasting long.
It was down to Sarfraz to lead from the front and the 30-year old made the most of two reprieves to steer Pakistan over the line alongwith important contribution from Amir.
Sarfraz was dropped twice by Thisara Perera and substitute Seekkuge Prasanna on 38 and 40 respectively, bith times off Lasith Malinga’s bowling.