England have edge against Pakistan in first semi-final
England will fancy their chances of extending the search for an elusive major global ODI silverware despite drawing a mercurial Pakistan in the first semifinal of the ICC Champions Trophy here on Wednesday.
Three-time World Cup finalists England have been trying for the past 42 years to lay claim to a trophy in a major 50 -over tournament.
In Eoin Morgan's well-balanced unit, the world sees a chance for England to realise their dream.
Notwithstanding Pakistan's remarkable turnaround after a embarrassing loss to arch-rivals India in their tournament opener in Birmingham, hosts England will take to the field at Sophia Gardens with their nose ahead.
England have come a long way in a short space of time since a humiliating first-round exit at the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
They thrashed Pakistan 4-1 in a bilateral ODI series last year at home, including a world record score of 444 for three at Trent Bridge, which provides ample proof of their resurgence in recent times in a format they are still in the process of mastering.
In Ben Stokes, they have one of the world's best all- rounder, who can inflict damage on the opposition with both bat and ball. It was not for nothing the Durham player was paid a handsome USD 2.16 million to take part in the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) this season. Joe Root is a world-class batsman and is the fulcrum around whom the England batting revolves. Morgan and Jos Buttler complete the middle order, while openers Alex Hales and Jason Roy have the ability to be devastating at the top. Roy, though, has not been in the best of form and could be replaced by Jonny Bairstow for the last- four clash.
Pacers Jake Ball and Liam Plunkett have been doing the job with the ball, while a fired-up Mark Wood revelled in his role as Morgan's strike bowler, propelling the side to the semifinals.
Wood has returned this summer after three bouts of ankle surgery but his pace remained intact, often bamboozling opposition batsmen with his 90mph missiles.
England have by far been the best team in the tournament.
They are the only team still unbeaten in the competition as they sailed into the semifinals with three victories on the trot in the group stage.