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England humbled by Pakistan in Champions Trophy trouncing

Cricket

England checked out of the Champions Trophy with an embarrassing whimper in an eight-wicket semi-final trouncing at the hands of Pakistan in Cardiff.

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After mustering only a meek 211 all out on an awkward surface, they managed to delay Pakistan for a mere 37.1 overs as the tourists instead booked their place at The Oval this weekend.

Hasan Ali (3-35) was exemplary as the Pakistan attack performed admirably – despite the key absence of Mohammad Amir with a last-minute back spasm – and with a top-score of just 46 from Joe Root, England fell badly short after being put in on a glorious day.

They lost their last eight wickets for 83 runs, failed to hit a single six on the small playing area, and were unable to make Pakistan pay for a series of early fielding lapses which benefited Jonny Bairstow especially.

Many wondered if a tricky chase might nonetheless be on the cards, but openers Azhar Ali (76) and Fakhar Zaman (57) made a mockery of that notion in a first-wicket stand of 118.

Their opposite number Bairstow – brought in to open for the first time in international cricket in place of the out-of-form Jason Roy – had responded with a battling 43, but on a used pitch that precluded fluent strokeplay as the ball swung, England could never get a foothold and folded tamely in their attempt to set a defendable total.

Conditions provided only transient mitigation as Pakistan confirmed a paltry return for opponents accustomed to a benchmark of at least 100 more of late.

“One thing we didn’t do was adapt to conditions, which I thought Pakistan did extremely well,” England captain Eoin Morgan said.

“Full credit to them, they outplayed us on this wicket. 211 wasn’t a good score. 250/270 would have been.”

Bairstow had his scrapes from the outset, narrowly avoiding a second-ball duck when Junaid Khan’s review for lbw achieved only an umpire’s call survival, and was then twice dropped before pulling the third ball of Hasan’s first spell straight to deep square-leg.

Alex Hales’ attempt to up the ante had already ended in a faulty chip to cover, advancing to Rumman Raees to give the one-day international debutant his maiden wicket.

England were still without a 50 stand when Root went short of his own half-century, edging a cut behind off young legspinner Shadab Khan.

Morgan tried to dominate Hasan at the start of his second spell, but instead edged behind from up the wicket when the seamer pushed the ball wider.

After Jos Buttler’s departure to Junaid, flapping another caught-behind to the first delivery after drinks, England were in trouble.

Ben Stokes took 30 balls over his first 10 runs but wickets kept falling at the other end.

In the first over of Pakistan’s reply, they managed two statistics which had proved beyond England.

Azhar was responsible for the first three of the match, from a pull at Mark Wood, and Fakhar added a six with a mistimed hook at the England strike bowler.

Fakhar predictably came out swinging against the new ball, and England’s attempt to make things happen by going short to both batsmen came to nought and merely accelerated the chase.

Fakhar’s share was past 50 in only 49 balls as he powered the century stand – and although he got greedy against an Adil Rashid googly to be stumped before Azhar eventually chopped a slower bouncer from Jake Ball on to his stumps, their departures amounted to no more than minor postponement of the inevitable.

“Credit goes to the bowlers and the batters who finished it very well,” said Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed.

“We adapted to the conditions, we knew if we restricted them we could easily chase it down.

“Every game is a knockout game and I told my boys to play their game and not worry about the result.”

Pakistan will now play the winner of India and Bangladesh in the final this weekend.

-PA

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