Pakistan’s road to the semi-final began on a positive note with their first-century partnership in nearly 9 years The 118-run stand between the duo of Fakahr Zaman and Azhar Ali was the perfect ingredient to chase down a tricky total of 211 as it allayed fears of any batting collapse in the dressing room and took Pakistan to the cusp of history.
Incidentally, this was the highest ever opening run stand for Pakistan in the history of Champions Trophy. It was also the first time that their openers forged four consecutive stands of over 40 in one day internationals outside Asia. The stand between Ali and Zaman also assumes importance from the fact that England had scored just 211 in their innings and would then attack with full power. However, it was the steady presence between the duo of Zaman and Ali that calmed down nerves in the dressing room and helped Pakistan chase down a tricky total.
Both of them batted with extreme caution, in the beginning, to score just 40 in the first ten overs. Azhar Ali was the chief architect of a sound defence with a gritty 76 of 100 balls. Most of those deliveries were spent on batting with caution to see out the initial attack by the Three Lions. Fakhar Zaman, on the other hand, tried to dominate with an attacking knock of 57 which had a strike rate of almost 100. Chasing small totals can be extremely tricky at times especially if the top order crumbles under pressure. But it was Zaman who did not allow the pressure to build up as he kept hitting the balls towards the boundaries which ultimately saw his side through.