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Coming into the Champions Trophy after a 2-1 win over South Africa, England have so far been one of the best teams of the tournament. With all their players stepping up and delivering for them, they are the only team who are still unbeaten in the competition. The Eoin Morgan-led side topped Group A, consisting of Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh, as they romped into the knockout stage with three back-to-back victories.
With eight wickets from three matches, Liam Plunkett continues to lead England’s pace attack. The right arm pacer will once again be the England’s weapon against Pakistan’s batting line-up. The hosts are fortunate enough that their entire batting unit has been among the runs and possesses to be a threat to Pakistan bowlers. Leading the way have been Joe Root and skipper Morgan, who continue to provide strength to England’s middle order. With a century against Bangladesh and fifty against New Zealand, Root is the fourth highest run-getter for the hosts.
England started their campaign with a thumping victory over Bangladesh courtesy to Root’s unbeaten 133 and well-supported knocks by opener Alex Hales (95) and Morgan’s 61-ball 75. Two big partnerships saw England chase down a target of 306 with ease. Despite Tamim Iqbal’s 128 and 79 by Mushfiqur Rahim, Bangladesh failed to capitalise the momentum in the last five overs.
England dominated New Zealand in the second game. Fifties by Hales, Root and Jos Buttler paved way for them to register an 87-run win over struggling New Zealand. Lately, batting first has been their strength and they showcased it when they set New Zealand a target of 311. After their batsmen put up a brilliant show with the bat, right-arm seamer Plunkett led England’s bowling attack and returned with the bowling figures of 4/55 in 9.3 overs. Apart from Plunkett, Mark Wood and Jake Ball have been magnificent with the ball.
Facing desperate Australia, who were looking for a win after their previous two matches being abandoned by the rain, England persisted against the mighty Aussies and ruined their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages with a 40-run (D/L) win at Birmingham. Chasing a total of 277, England rode on Ben Stokes unbeaten knock of 102 to eliminate Australia from the tournament.
They now face Pakistan, who had a bumpy ride all the way. The semi-final match between England and Pakistan will be played on June 14 at the Cardiff. England, who have the momentum with home conditions and crowd support favouring them, will be hoping of making it to the consecutive finals in the ICC tournament. The two teams faced off last year in Tests and ODI, with the hosts winning the one-day series 4-1 while the Pakistan leveling the four-match series 2-2.