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Hasan Ali picked 3 for 35 Getty Images

At Cardiff Pakistan created a near-encore of their effort against Sri Lanka. In semi-final I of ICC Champions Trophy 2017, Pakistan dismantled the batting-heavy England for a modest 211. On a slow track that produced variable bounce, England rarely had a moment of domination. Pakistan bowled well in tandem and did so at every juncture. With his 35 for 3, Hasan Ali jumped to the top in the list of highest wicket-takers for this edition. To add to the fire, Pakistan plucked two stunners in the deep and inflicted a run out to keep Pakistan on course for their maiden final in this flagship tournament. Full cricket scorecard: England vs Pakistan

Sarfraz Ahmed kept squealing behind the wickets. His comrades were diving in all directions, often to great effect, though there was the odd funnily-timed jump. In the absence of injured Mohammad Aamer, Pakistan made sure they injected extra energy, and the occasion demanded it. England, on the other hand, were held behind. Every time they gained momentum, Pakistan spun it back towards them.

Junaid Khan, despite being aggressive, did not have the best of starts. His first three overs leaked at least one boundary each, the best being Alex Hales’ delightful straight-drive. Meanwhile, Jonny Bairstow decided to lead the charge and scored more runs than what the dropped Jason Roy did in three matches. From flicks off pads to short-arm jab, he peppered boundaries when bowled in his favourite lengths, and his big backlift only helps the ball race faster past the fielders. England scored 29 runs after 5 overs.

Replacing Aamer, Rumman Raees showed no signs of nervousness despite making his debut in an ICC knockout match, becoming the sixth to do so. Contrary to Junaid, he kept it simple. The ploy soon paid off: trying to break shackles, Hales danced down the track and smashed it to Babar Azam. Hales’ intention was right, but his bat wobbled at the time of execution.

Raees would have got his second scalp, but Pakistan characteristically dropped a catch. Although the attempt was brilliant by Pakistan’s standards, Azhar Ali should have latched on to it. To make matters worse, Pakistan dropped another catch. This time Babar was in no position at first-slip to take a reflex catch. Fortune smiled twice upon Bairstow. In addition, Bairstow had already survived an lbw review in the very first over.

As Bairstow was cruising to his fifty, Pakistan contained him. In his very first over, Hasan Ali had him caught at deep square-leg. Having already played 56 balls, it was a nothing shot.

The onus of resurrection settled on captain Eoin Morgan and his deputy Joe Root. However, the duo could add only 48 for the third wicket. The pressure the Pakistan spinners had built up resulted in Root’s dismissal. He thin-edged a length ball off leg-spinner Shadab Khan.

Sarfraz had his field setting spot on. He shuffled players for each batsmen, and his bowlers complimented him by bowling according to the field. In 25 overs, spinners bowled at an economy of nearly 3.

Such was Pakistan’s performance that the focus was rarely on the home side. The scoring rate scaled down and England found themselves in trouble, so much so that only third time since May 2015 they managed less than 145 in 30 overs.

After completing 5,000 ODI runs for England, Morgan heaved at a wide one only to nick it to Sarfraz. It was Hasan again, the chief architect of Pakistan’s previous two wins.

Sarfraz brought Junaid back into the attack after the wicket. Like his every move today, this one went in his favour. Jos Buttler became the third consecutive batsmen to edge it to Sarfraz. England lost half their side for 148 in 34.1 overs.

Like in the previous two matches, Pakistan peaked in the middle overs. In fact, Sarfraz refrains from using his spinners in that phase and instead extracts reverse swing from the ageing ball.

All the same, there still was Ben Stokes at the crease, perhaps playing at his worst strike rate. That was atypical of him, but the need of the hour demanded him to be more careful. He left every bouncer Junaid hurled at him. However, Moeen fell prey to it and pulled the very first bouncer he faced to Fakhar Zaman in the deep. That, for that matter, was an overview of Pakistan’s improved fielding in the past few days. Running to his left, Fakhar pulled off a ripper.

Then Pakistan raised the bar ever higher, inducing a direct hit. As hard it is to digest but it was a delight to watch a Pakistani follow Jonty Rhodes’ school of thoughts, thanks to substitute Ahmed Shehzad.

So mediocre England’s performance that they did not score a single boundary since 37.5 overs. Let alone that, Stokes could not heave the ball to the fence even once in his 64-ball innings. With his change in pace, Hasan outfoxed Stokes for 34.

England lost the last two wickets Liam Plunkett and Mark Wood for 10. Raees made Plunkett his second scalp, while Sarfraz ran Wood out off the penultimate ball off the innings.

Pakistan had been in a similar situation in the last two matches. They were lucky that the DLS method brought the target down against South Africa, but it was Sarfraz who brought Pakistan from the dead versus Sri Lanka and take them to their third Champions Trophy semi-final, a stage they have never emerged triumphant in.

Brief scores:

England 211 in 49.5 overs (Jonny Bairstow 43, Joe Root 46; Hasan Ali 3 for 35, Junaid Khan 2 for 42) vs Pakistan.

Full scorecard