England will fancy its chances of extending the search for an elusive major global ODI silverware despite drawing a mercurial Pakistan in the first semifinal of the ICC Champions Trophy here on Wednesday.
Notwithstanding Pakistan’s remarkable turnaround, after an embarrassing loss to India in Birmingham, England will take to the field at Sophia Gardens with its nose ahead.
In Ben Stokes, it has one of the world’s best all-rounder, who can inflict damage on the opposition with both bat and ball. Joe Root is a world class batsman and is the fulcrum around whom the England batting revolves.
Roy may be replaced
Morgan and Jos Buttler complete the middle order, while openers Alex Hales and Jason Roy have the ability to be devastating at the top. Roy, though, has not been in the best of form and could be replaced by Jonny Bairstow for the last four clash.
Pacers Jake Ball and Liam Plunkett have been doing the job with the ball, while a fired-up Mark Wood revelled in his role as Morgan’s strike bowler, propelling the side to the semifinals.
Even as Sarfraz Ahmed’s unpredictable Pakistan stand between it and a second straight Champions Trophy final appearance, England will fancy its chances.
Pakistan will be boosted by its skipper’s match-winning knock against Sri Lanka. That it managed to hold its own in a match where there was quite a few twists and turns, should boost Pakistan’s morale.
While the middle order batting remains a concern, Sarfraz said Pakistan will address it so that the likes of Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik click when the situation demands.
Pakistan has a potent bowling attack in Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan and Hasan Ali with Faheem Ali adding a fourth dimension. England is aware that Pakistani pacers are adept at exploiting helpful conditions. Sarfraz, too, knows too well the opposition his team is up against.
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