England To Advance To Champions Trophy Final

Ball can star again with the ball

England and Pakistan will battle it out for a place in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy at Sophia Gardens.

The Green Shirts played Sri Lanka in their final Group B game which equated to a quarter-final contest, with the winner facing the Three Lions.

Niroshan Dickwella put Pakistan on the back foot by scoring half-century, guiding his side over the 150-run mark leaving them in a decent position with 18 overs remaining.

However, Mohammad Amir and Hasan Ali prevented the Lions from amassing an overwhelming total, with Angelo Mathews’ men being bowled out for 236 in the 50th over.

Pakistan’s reply got off to a rapid start thanks to Fakhar Zaman, but his dismissal started a collapse that reduced the Green Shirts 137-6.

Safraz Ahmed held his composure and guided his team to a three-wicket victory, producing a solid innings of 61 with aid from a score of 28 from Amir.

England won their third game on the bounce in the tournament, eliminating their old foes Australia in the process by 40 runs on the Duckworth/Lewis Method.

Four wickets apiece from Mark Wood and Adil Rashid limited the Baggy Greens to 277 in their 50 overs, with only Travis Head offering resistance late in the innings.

Josh Hazlewood notched two early scalps of Alex Hales and Joe Root, but Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes took the attack to the Aussies, with the latter scoring the decisive hundred that secured the win for the Three Lions as the rain fell at Edgbaston.

We’ll now breakdown the odds for the last four clash in Cardiff as the Three Lions aim to reach the final for the second tournament in a row.

England’s Top Batsman

Bairstow has a point to prove

The Three Lions are in the fortunate position of having almost their entire line-up operating at the peak of their powers. Hales, Root, Morgan, Stokes and Buttler have all fired in the tournament, with only Jason Roy failing to contribute in any of his side’s three matches.

Roy could pay the price for his failures as Jonny Bairstow looks poised to replace him in the line-up as opener. The 27-year-old has been in excellent touch for England over the past year and he should have no problem adjusting to the role, having played there for Yorkshire this season.

With a point to prove after watching the first three matches of the tournament – Bairstow will look to fire and he has the ability to dispatch the Pakistan attack to all parts.

He fared well in the Test series against the Green Shirts last year and scored a half-century in one of the two ODIs he played against Ahmed’s men. As a result, Bairstow is well placed to lead the way for the Three Lions at +500   with BetFred.

Root will also be keen to bounce back from his dismissal against Australia as he made only 15 before he was caught behind off the bowling of Hazlewood. He has an excellent opportunity to end the Champions Trophy as the highest run scorer and another fine knock would keep his hopes alive with the potential of playing one further match than his rivals.

His odds of +275   with SkyBet are solid, but should only be taken if England keep faith with Roy ahead of Bairstow at the top of the innings.

Pakistan’s Top Batsman

The Green Shirts opted for a change at the top of the innings themselves after their opening-match defeat to India. Zaman was brought into the side to replace Ahmed Shehzad and the move has paid dividends, with the 27-year-old getting his side off to flying starts against South Africa and Sri Lanka.

He notched his first ODI half-century against the Lions off just 34 deliveries. The impetus he provided in the early stages of their reply proved to be critical towards the end of the chase as Ahmed and Amir were allowed to take their time to guide Pakistan over the line.

England boast one of the most formidable batting units in the world and are capable of setting or chasing imposing totals with relative ease. Therefore it’s crucial that Pakistan are able to get off to another strong start with Zaman leading the way.

The 27-year-old has all the shots in his locker and his side will need him to be at his best to put the Three Lions on the back foot. His odds of +450   with Ladbrokes are intriguing as he has shown impressive form in his fledgling career.

Babar Azam has had a quite tournament thus far, with only his unbeaten knock of 31 to his name thus far. He will need to fire for Pakistan to reach the final and could push Zaman to be the leading run scorer at Sophia Gardens.

England’s Top Bowler

Ball can star again for England

England received inspired performances from Wood and Rashid to put the clamps on Australia at Edgbaston, with the pace bowler removing the Baggy Green’s elite players at the top, while the leg-spinner swept up the tail with a fine performance.

Sophia Gardens presents a dilemma for the Three Lions as the boundaries are shortest down the ground.

Jake Ball and Liam Plunkett were the men to capitalise on the situation as they made life difficult for New Zealand during their Group A contest, with Ball snagging two important strikes, while Plunkett wrapped up the tail.

Expect both men to be important again – especially if Pakistan are required to chase a large total with the long square boundaries coming into play. Ball picked up the man of the match award against the Black Caps and he could thrive once again playing on a potential weakness for the Green Shirts against short deliveries.

Backing the 26-year-old at +450 with Bet365 would be a solid option to guide England into the final.

Winner

England have been playing excellent cricket in the tournament and have a strong history against Pakistan on home soil, having hammered the Green Shirts last year in their series.

The Three Lions put up the world record score against Pakistan last year and with their batsmen in prime form they could amass another huge total that could be too much to contend with.

Morgan’s men are also bowling well, with the wickets evenly spread throughout the attack in the opening three matches.

Pakistan did win the contest between the two sides at Sophia Gardens last year to avoid a whitewash in the ODI series.

However, England simply have too much quality for Ahmed’s side to cope with – therefore backing them to win the contest at -250   with Betfair is the only punt to take.

Tips Summary

England To Beat Pakistan ICC Champions Trophy Semi-Final
Wednesday 14th June 10:30am BST
Odds: -250

Jonny Bairstow To Be England’s Top Batsman
Wednesday 14th June 10:30am BST
Odds: +500

Fakhar Zaman To Be Pakistan’s Top Batsman
Wednesday 14th June 10:30am BST
Odds: +450

Jake Ball To Be England’s Top Bowler
Wednesday 14th June 10:30am BST
Odds: +450