When Sarfraz Ahmed came to the crease at Sophia Gardens on Monday, his Pakistan team was four down but cruising towards the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 semi-finals at Sri Lanka's expense. Then, within five overs, he lost Shoaib Malik for 11, Imad Wasim for 4, and Fahim Ashraf, who didn't ground his bat and was needlessly run out for 15. Suddenly, the chase was no longer a cruise. It was in rough seas and Ahmed couldn't afford to be seasick.
Somehow, he survived two dropped catches and marshalled fast bowler Mohammad Amir as they knocked off the last 75 runs in 15 overs to propel Pakistan into the semi-finals for the first time since 2009. Pakistan won by a closer-than-it-looks three wickets in dramatic fashion, and will play England on Wednesday on the same ground.
"I can't believe it," Ahmed said. "Thanks to Amir, he played really well. I just told him to play his game and not to worry about the score. That if we took it to the 40th over we would win. Dropped catches are part of the game. Allah helped us and that's why Pakistan won today," he said.
Sarfraz now hopes that his team can carry on the confidence against England.
"We played the last ODI here. We win that time, we chased 300, so definitely our confidence is very high playing in Cardiff," Sarfraz said.
The Pakistan skipper said his team will look to play positive cricket against England, who are the only team to win all the three matches in the group stage.
"England is a very good team, a very, very good team. If you are playing a world-class team, definitely, you play more positive cricket, so we will do so against England," he added.
Sarfraz also said that they would iron out their batting concerns before the semi-final.
"I think it's a great win today, and credit goes to the bowlers, who bowled really well at a crucial time. Yes, there is a little bit of concern about the middle order batting, but we will sort out the problems," he said.