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Pakistan marched their way into the finals of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 after they defeated England in Cardiff by 8 wickets. Former New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond, in his column for ICC, wrote that the margin of victory has certainly surprised him.
“I must say I am surprised, at not just the fact that Pakistan got the better of England, but also the way it did so. The margin of victory by eight wickets with nearly 13 overs to spare is as comprehensive as you can get, and is indicative of the quality of cricket the two sides portrayed on the day,” Bond wrote.
Pakistan elected to field and Sarfraz Ahmed’s decision did surprise former Kiwi bowler Bond. “Sarfraz Ahmed’s decision to bowl first on a previously used surface at the Cardiff Wales Stadium was an interesting one. You would have thought the team winning the toss would be looking to bat first in Cardiff, and I am pretty sure Eoin Morgan would have batted first had he won the coin-toss. At this ground, the average score batting first is around 300 and while chasing is about 260,” he added.
England didn’t make their second consecutive ICC Champions Trophy final but the Eoin Morgan-led unit drew a lot of praise for the intent they played with.
“England will be disappointed at this result, but I do not think that will impact the way it plays the limited-overs formats. With the team it has and the way it plays, it is a very dangerous side, and I certainly think playing this way, aggressively and with intent, is its best chance of winning a tournament.”
Pakistan suffered a huge blow ahead of their semi-final clash against England as Mohammad Amir was ruled out missed out of the game due to back spasms but a win without the left-armer would boost the team’s confidence, felt Bond.
“For Pakistan to win, thus, and to do so without Mohammad Amir, will be massive for its confidence. To get a hiding in the first game, like it generally does against India, can knock your confidence out, but it has shown steel and resolve to bounce back from that defeat,” the fast bowler wrote.
Shane Bond admitted that the viewers and sponsors would be expecting an India-Pakistan clash in the final at the Oval on Sunday. “I think everyone, and especially the sponsors, now will be wanting an India-Pakistan final at The Oval on Sunday. That will be huge because there are large Indian as well as Pakistani communities in England,” Bond wrote.
“You would think India has the edge, but Bangladesh has the talent, and if it turns up on Thursday, you never know. I am not going to commit anything, not after having been emphatically proved wrong by Pakistan,” he added.