Sarfraz Ahmed (61* off 79 balls) and Mohammad Amir (28* off 43 balls) put on an unbeaten 75-run partnership to guide Pakistan into the semi-finals of the ICC Champions Trophy as they defeated Sri Lanka by three wickets in a thrilling contest at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff on Monday.
Chasing 237 to win, Pakistan had got off to a good start with Fakhar Zaman (50 off 36 balls) and Azhar Ali (34 off 50 balls) adding 74 runs for the first wicket. Zaman was especially superb as he brought up his first ODI half-century.
Then, came a batting collapse that Pakistan are so familiar with as they lost wickets at regular intervals and were reduced to 162-7.
That was when Amir joined his captain Sarfraz in the middle and the duo batted sensibly to bring their team right back into the game.
Sri Lanka had their chances with a couple of catches going down and that cost them dearly as Sarfraz notched up an unbeaten half-century and saw his side home alongside Amir.
Earlier, Pakistan pacers Junaid Khan and Hasan Ali picked up three wickets each as Sri Lanka were bowled out for 236 after being put into bat.
Opener Niroshan Dickwella top scored for Sri Lanka with a 86-ball 73 and formed decent partnerships of 56 with Kusal Mendis (27 off 29 balls) and 78 with skipper Angelo Mathews (39 off 54 balls). But the wicket of Mathews in the 32nd over triggered a batting collapse which saw the Lankans lose four wickets for just six runs.
A 46-run partnership for the eighth wicket between Asela Gunaratne (27 off 44 balls) and Suranga Lakmal (26 off 34 balls) took Sri Lanka past the 200-run mark but that wasn’t enough in the end.
Amir and debutant Fahim Ashraf also made contributions with the ball, with both taking two wickets apiece.
Pakistan will now face hosts England in the first semi-final at the same venue i.e Sophia Gardens, Cardiff on Wednesday.
Sri Lanka 236 all out, 49.2 overs [Dickwella 73, Junaid 3-40, Hasan 3-43] lost to Pakistan 237-7, 44.5 overs [Sarfraz 61*, Zaman 50, Pradeep 3-60] by three wickets.
Player of the Match – Sarfraz Ahmed.