Much to their chagrin Pakistan have been the most unpredictable team of the tournament. After starting their campaign with a poor show against India, the Asian giants have been notching up impressive wins. The victories, though, haven’t been bereft of drama. On Wednesday, as they dueled with England for a place in the finals of the ICC Champions Trophy, the expectations were high for another drama-filled performance.

To the disappointment of those drama-seekers, Pakistan produced a flawless all-round performance to thrash England by eight wickets and book a berth in the final.

It was their bowlers, who set up the game for them. After winning the toss and choosing to field in Cardiff, Pakistan’s six-pronged attack broke England’s back with a clinical display.

Chasing the hosts’ modest target of 212, Pakistan began strong as openers Azhar Ali (76), Fakhar Zaman (57) shared a 118-run partnership to bat England out of the game early into their chase.

The opener did fall, but by then the damage was done. Babar Azam (38*) and Mohammad Hafeez (31*) ensured that there was no more hiccups as Pakistan crossed the line with 77 balls to spare.

Earlier, Pakistan’s bowlers were on point once again. Skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed shuffled his bowlers well to apply the pressure on an England outfit, that was flying high following an unbeaten run into the semi-finals.

The bolwers were at England’s throat from the get go, this despite pacer Mohammad Amir missing the game due to a back strain. Both pacers and spinners were up to the task after Pakistan won the toss and chose to field first.

Playing in his maiden ODI, pacer Rumman Raees made inroads early on in the England innings. He sent back opener Alex Hales on 13 just as he and partner Jonny Bairstow (43) were forming a steady partnership. England made full use of the Decision Review System and managed to have three calls go in their favour. Despite the setbacks, Pakistan stuck to their guns.

Most of the England batsmen got starts, but none lasted long enough to play any significant impact. The bowlers were on top of things and made breakthroughs at regular intervals.

Hasan Ali was the standout bowler on the day. He bagged three wickets and gave away just 35 runs. His economy of 3.50 was the lowest amongst bowlers from both sides. It was his breakthroughs that completely broke the back of England’s batting line-up.

He was supported well by fellow pacers Raees (2/42) and Junaid Khan (2/44), who helped wrap things up as pre-tournament favourites, England, wilted under the pressure.

England went into the game as a team that had not put a foot wrong. Despite the early wickets. There was enough depth in the side. Coming into bat at number three, Joe Root began strongly but fell to spinner Shadab Khan after making 46. His dismissal prompted a collapse in the ranks as the hosts went from 128/2 to be bowled out for 211.

The low total was never going to be good enough to defend. Pakistan’s batsmen produced a clinical performance on the same wicket where most of England’s in-form batters failed to make an impact. They will now face either India or Bangladesh in the final on Sunday.

Brief scores

  • England 211 all out in 49.5 overs (Jonny Bairstow 43, Joe Root 46; Hasan Ali 3/35) lost to Pakistan 215/2 in 37.1 overs (Azhar Ali 76, Fakhar Zaman 57, Babar Azam 38) by eight wickets.