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Can Pakistan surprise England with their unpredictability - Match Preview

Jos Buttler during a net session ahead of the game against Pakistan
Jos Buttler during a net session ahead of the game against Pakistan

Match details:

1st Semi-final - England v Pakistan
14th June, 10:30 am local, 09:30 GMT, Cardiff

The first semi-final of the ICC Champions Trophy tournament will see the unpredictable Pakistan taking on hosts England in Cardiff on Wednesday.

England looked the best team of the tournament so far and the way they chased down against Australia in the final game of the group stage with hardly a sweat shows the change in approach they have underwent after the 2015 World Cup debacle. With Mark Wood at number 10, who is not a pushover, England possess one of the deepest batting line-up in the tournament, yet a formidable bowling attack too. During the game against New Zealand, they were 210 for six at one stage, but still managed to post a total of over 300.Follow all the action in the semi final on our Live Cricket Scores section or if you fancy a punt on who is going to win check the latest cricket betting odds at Bet Bright.

Joe Root has been super consistent for them while the likes of Eoin Morgan, Alex Hales and Ben Stokes were also among the runs. To address their top order issue, which was found wanting in the tournament, England might opt for Jonny Bairstow to open the innings, replacing the out of form Jason Roy. Bowling looks fairly at safe hands with Liam Plunkett and Adil Rashid finding themselves in the top four leading wicket-takers of the tournament and Wood showed the damage he can cause against Australia with a four-wicket haul. Despite, missing out on Chris Woakes, they still look all bases covered, courtesy the all-round ability of Stokes.

At one stage, not many would have expected Pakistan to make it to the semi-finals after their demoralising loss against India in the opening game. However, they picked themselves up, made some strong changes to the line-up, pushing Ahmed Shehzad out and bringing in exciting talent in Fakhar Zaman. It is their bowling that helped them turn things around as seen in the games against South Africa and Sri Lanka where they restricted the opposition under 250 on either occasions.

Their batting looks to be brittle with a lot of dependency on the top order and Sarfraz Ahmed. Chasing 237 against Sri Lanka, Pakistan looked comfortable at 92 for one but once again the middle order collapse almost costed them a chance in the semi-final and were reduced to 162 for seven before Sarfraz and Mohammad Amir took them past the line with a spirited eighth wicket stand. Their fielding looked very clinical against Sri Lanka but if they are to beat England, they need to excel in all departments.

Head to Head Record:

England have won 49 out of the 81 games played between the two countries while Pakistan emerging victorious on 30 occasions. In England, the home side have won 26 out of the 41 games and this will be the first time, the two sides will face in a Champions Trophy game.

The last time these two teams met in a semi-final was during the 1989 World Cup which Pakistan went on to win by six wickets.

Road to Semi-Finals:

England won all their round one matches against Bangladesh, New Zealand and Australia to top Group A while Pakistan won their final two must win games against South Africa and Sri Lanka to claim the second position in Group B.

Probable Team:

England: 1. Alex Hales, 2. Jonny Bairstow, 3. Joe Root, 4. Eoin Morgan (captain), 5. Ben Stokes, 6. Jos Buttler (wk), 7. Moeen Ali, 8. Adil Rashid, 9. Liam Plunkett, 10. Mark Wood, 11. Jake Ball

Pakistan: 1. Fakhar Zaman, 2, Azhar Ali, 3. Babar Azam, 4. Mohammad Hafeez, 5. Shoaib Malik, 6. Sarfraz Ahmed (wk) (captain), 7. Imad Wasim 8. Shadab Khan, 9. Hasan Ali, 10. Mohammad Amir, 11. Junaid Khan

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