England v Pakistan: ICC Champions Trophy semi-final – live!

Some slightly alarming team news for Pakistan. This could be a big blow:

Early blow for Pakistan...

Morning everyone. Such are the strange times we live in that you can sidle up to strangers, begin your small talk with the opening gambit of “England look the best side in a 50-over tournament” and no one looks at you funny before shuffling away with a look of dread and horror. Which makes a nice change. Yes, we’ve arrived at the semi-final stages swiftly enough – though am I the only one that feels this tournament has zoomed by a little too quickly? - with the hosts looking set fair. England, as expected, are favourites in the first one, against a Pakistan side who at times have been almost a caricature of their cricketing image – wretched in their first match, against India, inspired (particularly with the ball) against South Africa, and sporadically excellent against Sri Lanka while giving their fans plenty of scares as they scrambled over the line in pursuit of a modest target.

Neutrals will surely not begrudge Pakistan their place in today’s semi-final though, particularly those who like to see bowlers get their moments in the sun in this bat-heavy game. Indeed Pakistan in tournaments have always been about the bowling – from Wasim in ’92 to Shoaib Akhtar in ’99 to even just brief cameos such as Wahab Riaz’s inspired spell in a losing cause against Australia in that World Cup quarter-final two years ago. The erratic Wahab has been elbowed out of this current side’s attack, spearheaded now by the thrillingly zesty Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan and the young-old warhorse Mohammad Amir.

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