Riding high on confidence hosts England will take on unpredictable Pakistan in the first semi-final of the Champions Trophy in order to their chances of the search for an elusive major global ODI silverware here at the Sophia Gardens, Cardiff on Wednesday.
England had topped the Group A registering comprehensive wins against Bangladesh, New Zealand and Australia in its group and thus come into the match as favourites.
On the other hand, Pakistan have played as per their unpredictable tag. After suffering a crushing defeat against India in their opening match, the Sarfraz Ahmed-led side registered astounding victories against South Africa and Sri Lanka to enter the last four.
Going into the match, following are some facts between the two sides:
• England have won 12 of their last 14 meetings with Pakistan in ODIs (L2); they did lose their most recent encounter however (4th September 2016), that game taking place at this very venue in Cardiff.
• Surprisingly this will be the first time these sides will have faced off in the Champions Trophy, both teams have featured in every edition of the competition to date.
• England have won 11 of their last 12 ODIs and have a win rate of 79% in 2017 (11/14), the best of any side in the calendar year.
• Pakistan come into this match having secured four wins in their last five ODI outings (L1); losing four on the trot immediately before this run.
• England have alternated between victory and defeat in ODIs at this venue in Cardiff across their last five outings; seeing off the Black Caps by 87 runs last time out there.
• Pakistan beat England by four wickets in the only completed ODI to have taken place between these nations in Cardiff (September 2016).
• Eoin Morgan is five away from reaching 5,000 ODI runs for England; only two men have already achieved this feat for England (Ian Bell & Paul Collingwood).
• Mark Wood (England) recorded more dot balls (101) than any other bowler in the 2017 Champions Trophy group stage.
• Pakistan's Fakhar Zaman has scored his 81 runs in the 2017 Champions Trophy from only 59 balls faced; the highest strike rate (137.3) of any batsman to score 50+ runs in the competition.
• Sarfraz Ahmed (Pakistan) comes into this match on the back of a match- winning 61* against Sri Lanka; he's averaged 62.7 across his seven ODI innings in England and Wales (including knocks of 90 and 61* in his two previous outings in Cardiff).
England: Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan(c), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler(w), Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood, Jake Ball, David Willey, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Steven Finn
Pakistan: Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed(w/c), Imad Wasim, Fahim Ashraf, Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan, Hasan Ali, Haris Sohail, Shadab Khan, Ahmed Shehzad, Rumman Raees, Wahab Riaz.