About the Match
England and Pakistan have had two very contrasting Champions Trophy campaigns up until now. Whereas England won all three of their group games and enters the semi-finals undefeated, Pakistan on the other hand has barely scraped into the final four after two very hard earned victories against South Africa and Sri Lanka. However, irrespective of how these teams have made the final four, both these sides now have an equal chance of making the finals, when they will face each other in the first semi-final of the Champions Trophy 2017 to be played at Cardiff on 14th June.
England is the host for this edition of the Champions Trophy and also one of the most improved ODI units in the last couple of years. They have proved to be a very dynamic ODI team in recent months, and have totally lived up to such a billing in this tournament till now. England has played some fantastic cricket and defeated all other teams in their group, namely Bangladesh, New Zealand and Australia, with conviction to enter the semi-finals of this edition of the Champions Trophy undefeated.
The England batting line up has been in sensational form in the group matches, with Alex Hales, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan all getting good scores. The bowling has also done well as a unit with Liam Plunkett being the stand out performer with four wicket hauls in the first two games and Mark Wood and Adil Rashid getting their own four wicket hauls in the third game.
Being the hosts has provided England the all important home advantage and this will continue in this game as well. They will know the conditions inside out and the crowd will be on their side as well. This familiarity with conditions also brings added pressure though, and how well England is able to handle this pressure can determine the result of this game.
Most of the players in the English squad are in good form, and have done well in all the games till now. Ben Stokes, who was in sensational form with both bat and ball in the IPL, will be a crucial player for them in this game. England will be entering this game with a well balanced squad and some good recent success. Though how successful they will be against an unpredictable Pakistan will depend on how well they are able to handle the pressure of expectations.
Pakistan has had a really poor last couple of years in ODI cricket. They are the eighth ranked ODI team in the world currently, behind Bangladesh, and this perfectly highlights how much the Pakistan team has fallen behind in ODI cricket with respect to all the other major teams.
This lack of awareness to the modern game was highlighted in their first encounter against India as well, where they gave away a huge total through some hopeless fielding and wayward bowling, and then could never get going in the chase. The bowlers who did well for them were not fit enough to sustain a full ODI innings and the batsmen who scored some runs were too slow while scoring them.
Such performances were surely not going to win them many games in this tournament, and so they overturned everything they did in the first game to such an extent in their next two games against South Africa and Sri Lanka that it appeared as if it was a new Pakistan that was playing these games. Pakistan were electric in the field – diving, making saves, the energy was visibly high, and they bowled with a lot of purpose to restrict both South Africa and Sri Lanka to totals that were attainable for their less fancied batting. Against South Africa, Pakistan batsmen played sensibly, read the situation well, and were in complete control of the game when rain arrived and gave Pakistan a win based on DLS calculations. Against Sri Lanka however, Pakistan were in a real spot of bother, and were in the danger of missing out, but their captain Sarfraz Ahmed stood up and played a brilliant captain’s innings, and along with some help from a very cool and composed Amir, took his team home.
This means that Pakistan, against all odds and shattering all sorts of preconceived notions, are going to play in the first semi-final of this edition of the Champions Trophy. Pakistan is a very unpredictable, flamboyant and aggressive side, and predicting their performances can be very tricky. They displayed what they can achieve when they play with the right attitude in their wins against South Africa and Sri Lanka. They would just be hoping that they are able to play the same sort of cricket on Wednesday and make the finals.
Pakistan has a better overall record at ICC events in comparison to England. However, this England side is one of the best ODI outfits going around currently, their squad appears to be more settled and in form on paper, and they will carry the confidence of three superb wins in their previous games into this match, and this gives them a slight upper hand in this contest