Champions Trophy favourites England crash out to Pakistan

Pakistan's Mohammad Hafeez, left, and Babar Azam celebrate clinching the victory over England. Picture: Geoff Caddick/AFP/Getty
Pakistan's Mohammad Hafeez, left, and Babar Azam celebrate clinching the victory over England. Picture: Geoff Caddick/AFP/Getty
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Eoin Morgan ruled out any element of complacency and insisted England simply failed to adapt to the demands of a used Cardiff pitch as they crashed out of the Champions Trophy against Pakistan.

Morgan’s men reached 128 for two but faltered alarmingly to be bowled out for 211 as Hasan Ali (three for 35) exemplified an outstanding performance from the visitors’ attack on a dry surface which suited them ideally.

Openers Azhar Ali (76) and Fakhar Zaman (57) then helped knock off the inadequate total with almost 13 overs and eight wickets to spare as England bowed out of their own tournament at the semi-final stage.

It was an outcome which confounded almost all predictions after England had breezed through the group stages while Pakistan began their campaign with a landslide defeat against India and sneaked into the last four only when they beat Sri Lanka by three wickets.

But Morgan said: “We certainly weren’t over-confident.

“We played against some really good sides recently, and we’ve managed to beat them. But, certainly, that hasn’t gone to our heads at all.”

Morgan added: “We left ourselves short today, adapting to conditions.

“It’s a big frustration, because I think we’ve played some great cricket in this tournament – and we weren’t anywhere close to it today. But fair credit to Pakistan. They played brilliantly.”

Pakistan were expert with the ball, and fielded increasingly well too after dropping three early catches.

“I think, going into today’s game knowing that we were going to play on a used wicket potentially brought Pakistan’s game closer to their home,” added Morgan.

“So it was a big challenge, and one that was too far for us.

“They adjusted to conditions extremely well, and the wicket was obviously slow and low.

“Every partnership we had started behind the rate and none of our batsmen seemed to get away.”

England ground to a near standstill as their last eight wickets fell for 83, and Ben Stokes found himself batting entirely out of character without hitting a single boundary from his 64 balls.

“I felt like we were trying to take a positive option against them,” said Morgan. “But given the conditions, it didn’t allow us to do that, it was quite tough.”

He and Stokes had prospered on a vastly different surface against Australia in their final Group A match at Edgbaston on Saturday. But on arrival in Wales, they found requirements were very different.

“I don’t think there was any home advantage,” he added.

“We knew we were going to play on a used wicket at some stage in this tournament.

“But coming from Edgbaston, it was obviously a big jump [down] in pace and bounce and too much of an ask for us to adjust to really.”

Pakistan turned the run chase into a formality.

Asked how that came about, Morgan said: “I think the explanation is they played two days ago on it.”

He declined to call on tournament organisers to change their pitch policy, however.

“I think it depends on what the ICC want to get out of the tournament,” the 30-year-old added.

“If they want it to be completely neutral ground and bring all the teams into it... I would keep it the same way.”

Morgan’s opposite number Sarfraz Ahmed hailed 
his Pakistan side’s near-perfect performance.

“I think the pitch was very good for both teams,” he said.

“We played very well. That’s why we won.”

They were completing a remarkable turnaround after losing so heavily 10 days ago to India, who will bid to join them in the final when they take on Bangladesh in Birmingham today.

Sarfraz added: “After that first loss, we were very down.

“We just motivated the guys – ‘don’t worry about the India match, it’s gone... if we play good cricket, definitely we will win this tournament’.

“Now we are in the final.”