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Hasan Ali stars as England limp to 211

Hasan Ali stars as England limp to 211

InningsEngland 211 (Root 46, Bairstow 43, Hasan 3-35, Junaid 2-42) v Pakistan
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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‘If Pakistan end up in the final, it would be like winning a contest’

England’s campaign to secure their first trophy in a 50-over global tournament was strewn with pitfalls midway through their semi-final against Pakistan in Cardiff. Pakistan’s pressure was unrelenting on a dry, abrasive surface and the upshot was that they needed 212 for a place in the final. Pakistan struggled to get 237 here to beat Sri Lanka and this lower total might be equally challenging. This is not a pitch to stroke batsmen’s egos.

Nevertheless, they bowled with commendable skill. “You have to prepare for Pakistan as if they are at their best,” was the gist of Eoin Morgan’s assessment at the toss. It was a good thing, too, because the capricious nature of Pakistan cricket had come down this time on the side of 50 overs of vigorous, intelligent cricket.

There was finally a warm, sunny day to celebrate in Cardiff, but for England’s batsmen looking up was rather more encouraging than looking down. The pitch was the one on which Pakistan had won a semi-final spot by edging out Sri Lanka in frenzied fashion on Monday. They must have felt at home and responded marvellously.

England, who have been routine collectors of scores of 300-plus since the last World Cup, found life considerably more demanding. Certainly, the mood was different from the last time these two sides met in Cardiff, last September, when England habitually set more than 300 and Pakistan overhauled it with four wickets and 10 balls to spare.

Perhaps revealingly, Ben Stokes, who pummelled Australia at The Oval to knock them out of the tournament, failed to hit a boundary in scraping 34 from 64 balls before he struck a slower off-cutter from Hasan Ali straight up in the air 15 balls from the end. It felt like hard work: he might have been batting in dense air. England hit only 15 boundaries, only one in the last 11 overs – and that was an edge.

All six Pakistan bowlers acquitted themselves impressively, backed up by combative fielding. The wicketkeeper-captain, Sarfraz Ahmed, attacked where he could and helped himself to three catches along the way. Halfway through the game and Pakistan had produced a show where you marvel at their natural talent. But the curtain had still to rise for the second half.

Hasan, a fist-pumping, arm-outstretching inspiration, finished with 3 for 35 and his 10 wickets made him the leading wicket-taker in the tournament. He continued to sweet-talk the Kookaburra ball into occasional responses – a reluctant grunt of reverse here, a wink of compliance there.

Rumman Raees, his reputation enhanced in the Pakistan Super League, put in a solid shift of left-arm fast-medium on his ODI debut. Imad Wasim’s left-arm slows and the leg spin of the recalled Shadab Khan prospered on a dry, used surface, which also made the seasoned Mohammad Hafeez hard to combat.

Full report to follow

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

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ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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