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CT 2017, 1st Semi-final ENG v PAK – Pakistan Predicted XI

Pakistan are expected to make one change to their line-up

Sri Lanka
Pakistan. (Photo by GEOFF CADDICK/AFP/Getty Images)

After a hapless performance in their opening group game against arch-rivals India, Pakistan have managed to qualify for the semifinals. Though, they have to be credited for the turnaround as they beat tournament favorites South Africa and then their Asian rivals Sri Lanka. Pakistan, as expected have lived up to their ‘unpredictable’ tag as nobody gave them a chance after their heavy loss against India.

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed and coach Mickey Arthur will be proud of the way the team has played in the last two games. Both their wins were less than convincing as rain arrived against Proteas when the game was beginning to get interesting and 3 dropped catches from Sri Lanka only helped them to cross the winning line by just 3 wickets. Pakistan will have to be a near perfect in every aspect of the game when they face the hosts England in the semifinal tomorrow.

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England is the only team unbeaten so far in this tournament and are looking in great form. Every player apart from Jason Roy has contributed to the winning cause. They have found a hero in each match whenever they have been in a spot of bother. It would be an uphill task for the predictably unpredictable Pakistan to come out on top against the resurgent England.

Men in green though, have looked a completely different outfit with the ball in hand and have scripted wins on the back of some excellent swing bowling. Left-arm seamers Amir and Junaid have looked almost unplayable and Hasan Ali has been a class apart. His delivery to Wayne Parnell which castled his stumps has already been referred to as the ‘ball of the tournament’.

Nevertheless, batting line-up has looked brittle for them which messed up a chase of 236 against Sri Lanka. They have to improve immensely if Pakistan are to have any chance of beating England.

Here at CricTracker, we look at the predicted XI of Pakistan for this knockout clash:

Openers (Azhar Ali and Fakhar Zaman)

Azhar Ali, with a strike rate in the early 70s has been criticized a lot but he is the best man Pakistan can have at the moment at the top of the order. His calmness and composure against the moving ball is what Pakistan need if wickets fall early. He is capable of holding one end and guiding the innings. He has shown glimpses of his hitting in group stages so far and he would love to go big on a big day for Pakistan cricket.

Despite the hardships of a life in international exile, it is amazing to see Pakistan’s ability to cultivate rough diamonds and Fakhar Zaman is one of them. Their stunning renaissance since the debacle against India owes a lot to a 27-year-old debutant. He started his career against one of the world’s best bowling attack and scored an attacking 31 off 23 balls.

He took that confidence into the Sri Lanka game and scored a 36 ball half century and gave Pakistan a much-needed impetus which kept them alive in the tournament. Fakhar is surely the key for men in green and the youngster would like to stamp his authority in the knockouts.

Middle Order ( Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik)

Pakistan have finally found a batsman who can score consistently with the 21st-century strike rate. Babar Azam has impressed one and all in his short career so far and averages 52.73. He possesses great technique and has the temperament to play in alien conditions. Unfortunately, he hasn’t lived up to the expectations so far in group stages and Pakistan would look up to him to deliver in the crunch game. He is also a live wire in the field which only bodes well for Pakistan.

Mohammad Hafeez is one of the senior players in the side but has disappointed immensely with the bat. He has accumulated only 60 runs with a strike rate of 59.40 which is not at all acceptable in modern cricket. A lot more is expected of a player of his stature who has an experience of 188 one day internationals.

He has contributed decently with the ball though. He was the one who tied Proteas’ batsmen and also claimed a crucial wicket of Quinton de Kock who was looking dangerous. Hafeez’s all-round skills may come to the fore for Pakistan once again.

Shoaib Malik, another vastly experienced player alongside Hafeez, has shown glimpses of his best with short innings. But this is where Pakistan needs his composure in the middle order in an all important game. If Shoaib Malik plays his best cricket on any given day, he could win the game for his side on his own.

He showed his attacking prowess in the short innings against India but was run out unfortunately. He needs to stand up for his country now and make all his experience count. Moreover, his off-spin bowling would be a bonus against left-handers England possess in their batting line-up.

Lower Middle Order (Sarfraz Ahmed and Imad Wasim)

Sarfraz played a match winning innings of 61* against Sri Lanka and helped his side storm into the semifinals. He has lead Pakistan admirably making clever changes in the field and smart bowling changes which more often than not has worked. His captaincy skills would be severely tested against England and somehow, he has to bring out the best from his players. Sarfraz himself has to bat with more responsibility given the brittle middle order. He would love to do it again as he did in the must-win game against Sri Lanka.

Imad Wasim is another youngster who performs consistently for Pakistan. He is known to English conditions as he was born in Wales and has bowled with guile and accuracy to keep the batsmen in check. He was the main reason why South Africa stuttered after a decent start.

His slow left-arm bowling has been very hard to get away for many batsmen and once again, he will play a crucial role against the likes of Hales, Buttler and Root. Imad though has highly disappointed with the bat and he needs to step up to the occasion and score some vital runs at the death.

Bowlers ( Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan, Hasan Ali and Shadab Khan)

The only reason Pakistan are alive in the tournament is their bowling. Credit has to be given where it’s due and their bowlers certainly deserve it. They have toppled the world no. 1 side and then bowled Sri Lanka out for a small total. England batsmen should be aware of the skills they possess and they have the ability to run through any batting line-up on their day.

Mohammad Amir has been excellent up front with the ball not giving any room whatsoever to the batsmen. He also bowled fantastically in the middle stage of the innings and has made the bowl reverse. He looked at his best in the last game when he picked two crucial wickets which triggered a collapse of Sri Lankan batting line up.

Amir is also very handy with the bat and he was the one who stayed with Sarfraz when it seemed all over for Pakistan. He needs to continue his rich vein of form against the in-form opposition batsmen.

Injury to Wahab Riaz has come as a blessing in disguise for Pakistan which has allowed them to play Junaid Khan. He has looked threatening whenever he has bowled, may it be with the new ball or the old ball. He has also been economical and has bowled superbly in tandem with Amir. Junaid has picked 5 wickets in two matches and he would like to better that tally come the semifinals.

Hasan Ali so far is the bowler of the tournament for them by some distance. He has been impeccable with his line and lengths and has given no room for batsmen to play shots freely. After a horrible outing against India, Hasan Ali has made a remarkable comeback and become a vital cog of this bowling line up.

He has managed to keep that sustained pressure coming into bowl in the middle of the innings and has also provided crucial breakthroughs whenever needed. Hasan Ali has scalped 7 wickets so far in 3 matches and is third on the list of highest wicket-takers of the tournament. How well England play him could well decide the fate of the game.

The only change Pakistan could make to their playing XI is Shadab Khan in place of Faheem Ashraf. The only reason behind this could be the pitch on which the match would be played. The first semifinal will be played on the same surface on which Pakistan and Sri Lanka played.

So there is a possibility it could be on the slower side and might assist spinners. Shadab Khan, 18-year-old leggie is a very good bowler and bowled decently in the only game he played so far. His leg spin bowling against the hosts would be key for Pakistan.

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