CARDIFF, Wales: When Pakistan fell against India in their Champions Trophy mismatch at Edgbaston, it seemed that they were doomed for an early flight back home. But things have fallen in place for them. First, Birmingham rain helped them a bit against South Africa though a 19-run win at Edgbaston was primarily earned by Pakistan’s bowling attack.
Then on Monday at Sophia Gardens, Pakistan’s pace battery clicked though in the end it were the butter-fingered Sri Lankan spinners, who allowed their opposition to go through to the ICC Champions Trophy semi-finals.
On Wednesday, Pakistan face England, perhaps one of the most destructive teams ever in limited-overs cricket. Pakistan have announced their ambitions of playing in the Champions Trophy final on Sunday.
Mickey Arthur, Pakistan’s coach said his team will not settle for anything less. But can they do it? On paper, it appears to be a lop-sided contest. While Pakistan struggle to even score 250 runs, England have a knack for posting big totals.
Last August at Trent Bridge, England put their potent batting arsenal on display when they hammered a record 444 against Pakistan in an ODI, winning it by 169 runs. Alex Hales struck a record 171 and Jos Buttler made England’s fastest ever 50 from 22 balls.
England surpassed the 443-9 posted by Sri Lanka against the Netherlands in 2006.
The bad news for Pakistan is that England have evolved into an even better side than they were last year. Virat Kohli, India’s captain, recently commented that England “have no weaknesses” especially in home conditions. Sarfraz Ahmed, Pakistan’s captain, has also conceded that England are “a very, very good team.” So how do you beat a team that has the world’s best batting line-up, a great bowling attack and is now one of the best fielding sides in the world.
“By playing your best game,” says Mickey Arthur, Pakistan’s head coach. “If we play our best game then we will put them under pressure. From then on it’s all about capitalising on the points you score,” he explained.