They collapsed, however, on a sluggish pitch from 128 for two in sunny conditions which normally favour batsmen and the bowlers failed to fix the damage as Fakhar Zaman and Azhar Ali shared a stand of 118 to lead Pakistan to their target.

In the first semi-finals, England meets Pakistan at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff.

He confirmed that, despite their setback, England’s long-term ambition to win the 2019 World Cup remains on track.

But he said a semi-final could not be the summit of Pakistan’s ambitions, with an all Asian final against either India or Bangladesh, who play Thursday, in their sights.

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. Legspinner Shabab Khan might come into the side at the expense of Fahim Ashraf to counter England’s, Adil Rashid.

Babar Azam (10), Mohammad Hafeez (1) and Shoaib Malik (11) all failed before calm was restored by Sarfraz, who acknowledged some of his specialists must quickly improve. England are the only undefeated team in the tournament and were the first team to qualify for the last four by beating Group-A opponents Bangladesh, New Zealand and Australia respectively.

It was just too easy for Pakistan, which won its third straight game at the tournament.

Mohammad Amir was sidelined with a back spasm, having been a key figure in Pakistan’s virtual quarter-final win against Sri Lanka in Cardiff on Monday.

Zaman’s catch brought curtains to Ali’s innings and gave England their sixth jolt.

England’s test wicketkeeper, brought in to open for the first time in global cricket in place of the out-of-form Jason Roy, responded with a battling 43 – but bereft of a major contribution on a dry pitch that precluded fluent strokeplay as the ball swung, only top-scorer Joe Root’s 46 and Ben Stokes’ late determination helped drag the hosts above 200.

Pakistani openers took an ever so confidence start of the chase.

Yet Bairstow, opening for the first time in ODI cricket, had a narrow escape second ball when still on nought, after Junaid Khan appealed for lbw but he was given not out and Pakistan’s review was unsuccessful.

Hitting boundaries proved hard, however, and a frustrated Hales, on 13, spooned Rumman Raees to cover with a loose drive. That included an extremely close leg-before-wicket appeal by Pakistan in the first over from left-arm quick Junaid Khan.

Pakistan had sneaked into the Champions Trophy at the expense of the West Indies, who were just two points behind them in the ICC ODI rankings.

Stokes, fresh from his career-best 102 not out against Australia, took 64 balls to score a 34 that, remarkably for the usually big-hitting all-rounder, did not include a single boundary.


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