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Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by three wickets, reach semi final

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Pakistan will be advancing to cricket's Champions Trophy semifinals after defeating Sri Lanka 237/7 to 236/10 on Monday.

A successful Pakistani chase was on the cards by all accounts, a campaign that was boosted by the form of their early openers, with Azhar Ali and Fakhar Zaman combining for 84 runs at one and two in the order.

Sarfraz was dropped twice by Thisara Perera and substitute Seekkuge Prasanna on 38 and 40 respectively, bith times off Lasith Malinga's bowling.

As we speak, Lankans are reeling at 184 for 7 at the 40th over mark.

The fickle fraternity of bookmakers, the legal ones overseas and the police patronised here, not to speak of the dwindling band of Pakistan cricket team supporters, must have spent a sleepless and disturbed night. Sri Lanka squandered a chance of posting a big total as they slipped from 160-3 in 30 overs to 167-7.

Pakistan, especially with the introduction of Junaid Khan as a replacement for the volatile Wahab Riaz alongside Amir and Hasan Ali, now have a triumvirate of pace bowlers who seem adept at exploiting any help. Sri Lanka weathered the fast bowling with caution at first but got themselves to 82 for one in the 15th, with Dickwella (73) going well and looking to anchor the innings. Moments later we saw the Pakistan skipper appealing to the umpires to review a catch that he had clearly dropped.

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No win for Sri Lanka at Cardiff in ODIs from three matches, while Pakistan have registered one win from same number of games played at this venue.

Pakistan have been in an underachieving mode in global cricket for a while now, especially since they do not have too much cricket at home. Substitute fielder Seekkuge Prasanna shelled another chance - albeit a more hard one - in the 41st.

Playing away from his body to a Mohammad Amir delivery, he got a thick inside edge and Sarfraz Ahmed showed wonderful reflexes to dive to his right and pluck the catch inches from the ground. The way Junaid [Khan] and Amir bowled was a turning point.

Sarfraz will be on notice for the semi-final; if Pakistan exceed their allotted time period in that match and win, he could be suspended for the tournament decider.

Fakhar, comfortable in his role as the designated aggressor up front, hit three boundaries in the third over against Malinga.

If Monday's must win clash between the two sub-continent teams yields no result due to rain, then India and South Africa are likely to go through to the semi-finals.

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