Sri Lanka, Pakistan battle for semi-final spot today
LONDON (92 News) – Pakistan and Sri Lanka head into their concluding ICC Champions Trophy group match knowing the winner will advance to the semi-finals.
Today’s match in Cardiff has become a virtual quarter-final after Pakistan defeated South Africa last time out and Sri Lanka stunned reigning champions India.
Pakistan were thrashed by India in their opener and Sri Lanka went down convincingly to South Africa but the sides’ surprise wins in their second matches means one of them will join England, Bangladesh and India in the last four.
“We had a good bowling meeting,” said Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed after his team secured a rain-affected triumph over South Africa. “We took wickets. If you take wickets, every good team feels under pressure.”
Meanwhile, all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez said the ‘win or go home’ nature of the match would help Pakistan maintain their “crystal clear” focus in what will be the only Group B match at Cardiff.
“We are ready,” Hafeez insisted. We know this is a game we all want to win and want to go through to the semis.”
He added: “We saw a little bit of the conditions. We had a couple of sessions here, and we are very much prepared for that.”
Pakistan were also inspired by playing in front of a partisan crowd at Edgbaston, something they have rarely enjoyed since a 2009 terror attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore led to them playing most of their major matches overseas.
Sri Lanka are having to shore up their top order after injuries saw both Chamara Kapugedera and Kusal Perera ruled out of the remainder of the Champions Trophy, while vice-captain Upul Tharanga, an experienced batsman, is completing a two-game ban.
Tharanga was suspended by the International Cricket Council for presiding over a slow over-rate during Sri Lanka’s opening defeat by South Africa – a match regular captain Angelo Mathews missed due to a calf problem.
Now Sri Lanka will hope De Silva can follow the lead of opening batsman Gunathilaka, who made an impressive 76 in Sri Lanka’s surprisingly comfortable seven-wicket win on Thursday.