A battle between two contrasting sides
So here we are, about to witness the first semi-final of the Champions Trophy 2017. England v/s Pakistan there couldn’t have been two more contradictory sides facing each other. While one has entered the semi-finals cruising over their opponents, the other has struggled losing it, winning it, almost losing it and then surprisingly stealing victory from the hands of defeat.
While England won by displaying dominant performances on field, Pakistan has won games by committing fewer errors on field than their opponents.
While one had match winners punctuated in the side, someone raising the bar each time they took the field, the other had to hunt and call out for someone to be a hero. While one’s batting has been fluent as a rhythmic melody, the other’s has been as chaotic and volatile as unwanted noise. If England’s journey has been synonymous to a pro driver riding on a smooth, straight road in possibly the best car, Pakistan’s has been that of a child learning to ride a bicycle stumbling at every other speed breaker on the road.
England began the Champions Trophy as hot favourites, while Pakistan had been written off even before the tourney commenced, and yet they face each other in the semi-finals! After all only an unpredictable and messy Pakistan can plot a surprise defeat against a consistent and predictable English line up.
With rain marred matches early on in the tournament, Mother Nature seems to have blessed cricket lovers, with predictions of a clear sky and possibly the warmest day of the year so far in Cardiff, we’re set for a complete game of cricket.
While the weather has given its nod, the pitch has thrown up a puzzle. The match will be played on the same pitch which witnessed Monday’s game, so it might possibly assist the spinners being worn out a bit.
England’s only worry
Having had one sided games and complete and dominating performances throughout the Champions Trophy England have very little to worry about. They have ticked all the boxes and all bases.
A fresh looking English side would be stepping onto the field after a few days rest and some hard work in the nets. While the side looks settled and there is hardly any change required in the playing XI, England has had only worry ‘Jason Roy’. Having scored only 68 in the last 9 outings Roy hasn’t clicked much. His ODI career seems to have hit a road block. With Roy watching the team’s Tuesday’s training session from the sidelines and Bairstow having a full go, along with Eoin Morgans statement at the press conference point out to one possible replacement. Though Bairstow has a limited ODI experience he averages 94.5. Besides this there is hardly anything England should be worried about.
Can Pakistan once again pull off an unpredictable show?
Pakistan has a lot to worry about and England looks invincible on paper, but this is exactly when they do what no-one expects them to do. The only good thing for them has been that ever since the loss against India, their bowling has improved a few notches and they possibly bowled their best in the matches against South Africa and Sri Lanka. If as predicted the pitch does promise something for the spinners Shadab Khan might just get an entry into the playing XI.
If Pakistan is to beat England at all, they need to step up with their bowling. The English team bats deep, having almost proper batsmen till no.7 followed by bowlers who can hit the ball hard if needed. If Pakistan play onto their strengths and restrict England early on, they might just spring up an upset. But what has to be shed is their sloppy fielding, if they continue to wash their hands in butter, however good the bowling may be Pakistan will have to stare at a humungous total.
A volatile batting line up means Pakistan need to promote Sarfaraz or Malik up the order to ensure some stability. If they are to put up a fight the fragile batting needs some calm heads and experienced campaigners to step up.
England must be expecting another one sided game, but Pakistan being Pakistan can sometimes play unlike Pakistan, so you never know.