Resurgent Lanka, Pak eye semi berth

Sub-continental rivals lock horns in virtual quarterfinal

Resurgent Lanka, Pak eye semi berth

Their campaigns back on track after upset wins, Pakistan and Sri Lanka face each other in their concluding Champions Trophy group match in a virtual ‘quarterfinal’ here on Monday.

Both the teams lost their opening matches but bounced back into reckoning after producing two of the tournament’s biggest upsets so far.

Pakistan suffered a 124-run thrashing at the hands of arch-rivals and defending champions India but then notched up an upset win over world number one side South Africa to stay alive.

Sri Lanka too suffered a heavy 96-run defeat at the hands of South Africa but came up with a stunning batting show to shock India by seven wickets to place themselves in contention for a semifinal berth.

Pakistan bowlers, except for Mohammad Amir, were hammered by the top-order Indian batsmen but they made amends against South Africa whose batting line-up has several match-winners like A B de Villiers and Hashim Amla.

Left-arm spinner Imad Wasim (2/20) and paceman Hasan Ali (3/24) bowled beautifully to restrict the Proteas to a meagre 219 for 8.

Babar Azam (31 not out) and Shoaib Malik (16 not out) got Pakistan ahead of their required run-rate to secure a 19-run win under the Duckworth-Lewis method when rain stopped play with their side 119 for three off 27 overs.

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed had attributed the win against South Africa to good bowling against a strong side and he would look for another such display against the Lankans.

The Pakistani side had the luxury of playing in front of a partisan crowd in Birmingham but it is unlikely to have the same support in Cardiff.

“The crowd was supporting us and that’s why the players were boosted,” captain Sarfraz Khan had said after the win against the Proteas.

Pedestrian

Sri Lanka looked pedestrian in their opening game defeat at the hands of South Africa, failing collectively in the absence of their captain Angelo Mathews.

The return of Mathews seemed to have inspired the Lankans as they pulled off a dramatic win over India, who apparently had no chinks in their armour until the loss.

Most of the matches in this tournament have been affected by rain and if the clash on Monday is washed out, it will be a complex calculation to decide who make it to the semifinals.

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