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ICC Champions Trophy 2017 : Semifinals – Dr. Nilesh D. Mehta

icc20170611145553_lChampions Trophy semifinals 2017

Pakistan, ranked eighth, reached the semi-finals of the ICC Champions trophy 2017 and will play the favourites England tomorrow. As this short tournament of eight teams began just over a week ago, one would be hard pressed to overlook the mighty Aussies and South Africa.

South Africa, the number one ranked ODI nation, is the only team in ODI history to have scored at more than five runs per over.  Proteas, led by AB de Villiers, succumbed to India at The Oval to suffer an unceremonious exit. The humiliation left the South African skipper thoroughly perplexed about their performance.

However, the reality is that the high powered and higher ranked teams have been ousted. Pakistan, one of the most capricious teams in cricket, are known for becoming rather predictable of their unpredictability.

Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed would most certainly thank Thisara Perera of Sri Lanka for dropping one of the easiest of catches at mid-on. Their collective effort propelled Pakistan into the semi-finals. Sri Lanka can only blame their pathetic fielding for the loss to an inspired Pakistan team.

England’s fastest bowler, Mark Wood, is riding high with his wicket-taking ability of marquee batsmen during the course of this tournament. These included David Warner, Steve Smith and Kane Williamson during key moments of England’s matches.

The Eoin Morgan-led England team will be certainly beaming with confidence when they take on Pakistan in Cardiff on Wednesday.  England will have to navigate past Junaid Khan, one of Lancashire’s recruits, who replaced an injured Wahab Riaz. Another quick bowler for Pakistan who can cause headaches for England batsmen is Hasan Ali, particularly during the death overs. For the record, England have won 12 of the last 14 ODIs versus Pakistan.

India lost to Sri Lanka in the preliminary stages of the tournament despite putting up a challenging total of 321 at The Oval. That did surprise a large number of Indian fans, but, as skipper Virat Kohli appropriately said, they were beaten by a better side. Too bad that Sri Lanka could not carry their momentum forward with Pakistan.

Bangladesh is a spirited bunch of cricketers who seem hungry to once again surprise the world. They already have by eliminating New Zealand from the tournament. Out of the four top ODI ranked teams, only India has managed to make it to the next phase of the event.

Having qualified ahead of West Indies, Bangladesh certainly made their presence felt, especially with Mahmudullah and Mashrafe Mortaza. Also, their experienced and dependable left-handed allrounder Shakib Al Hasan, having played for eight different Twenty20 franchises, will be a key factor in their match against India. Bangladesh certainly has prepared well for this tournament having arrived in Sussex in April.

 

Semifinals : England v Pakistan tomorrow and India v Bangladesh on June 15.

– Dr. Nilesh D. Mehta – hiINDiA Cricket