Predictions are called predictions for a reason!
You can compare head-to-head records, you can dig out statistics, you can draw bowlers versus batsmen averages, you can do all and you can do nothing.
However, when it comes to predicting Pakistan’s performance against any team, at any point, in any tournament, you just can’t rely on numbers or logic because when its Pakistan’s day, they don’t care who they are facing, and if it is their day, they’ll make you look like a bug-ready-to-be-squashed in their path to glory.
While they walked in as the lowliest ranked team in the 2017 Champions Trophy, they are now going to compete for the coveted Champions Trophy silverware after beating till-now unbeaten England comprehensively by eight wickets on Wednesday.
Here are the four things that they did right in the semi-final.
After their humiliation against India, Pakistan haven’t looked back and their bowlers stepped up to the task for captain Sarfraz Ahmed.
The introduction of Junaid Khan helped Mohammad Amir put more pressure on opposition while Hasan Ali was always there to provide breakthroughs to his captain.
Meanwhile, spinners, with their one-off wickets also helped the team when they were called on.
The two dropped catches of Yuvraj Singh and Virat Kohli cost Pakistan 83 runs in their tournament opener but the lack of self-confidence did not show once after June 4.
Against South Africa, Sri Lanka and now England, Pakistan’s fielding was up to the mark with their catches and direct throws. No fielder was seen shying away from a dive in their road to the first-ever final appearance.
You might not want to give the batsmen credit for their performances, but after their bowlers set a platform, Pakistan batting lineup did show the intent sans the India match.
Once again the introduction of new blood, Fakhar Zaman up the order, helped Sarfraz’s men open the innings in a better way while Azhar Ali, however slow he maybe, helped the team to start off on the right foot.
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Nothing and I must say nothing can save Pakistan from Pakistan if they do not come to the field in the mood. People call their unpredictability predictable but if you look closely, if Pakistan come out to win, they make sure they win.
And a closer look helps you understand that they don’t do something extravagant to win matches. Their bowlers bowl good lines, use the reverse swing well, the captain knows when to use which bowler, all the traits which are taught to you when you start cricket at the professional level.
Finally, it would not be a far cry to call them favourites when they will walk into the final on Sunday at The Oval. And I’d go so far as saying that if India beat Bangladesh in the second semi-final, it will not be just another June 4 for the defending champions on June 18.