Hosts England take on a resurgent Pakistan side in the first semifinals of the Champions Trophy at Cardiff on Wednesday. The match is scheduled to commence at 3 pm at Cardiff in Wales. Last edition's finalist England comfortably sealed a spot in the semis, topping Group A. Meanwhile, underdogs Pakitan has surprised many by booking a berth in the last four, registering impressive wins over South Africa and Sri Lanka in their group games.
Here are five major reasons why England go in as favourites to win the semis against Pakistan
1. England more balanced and compact in batting
England has a better balance and depth in the squad as compared to their Asian counterparts Pakistan. England's batting looks more solid and compact on account of loads of experience in their top and middle order. The likes of Alex Hales, Jason Roy, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler all are seasoned campaigners in the shorter format of the game. Meanwhile, Pakistan's batting is a little short on experience and lacks quality. While they have been spirited performances by their young opener Fakhar Zaman and skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed in the group games, they have failed to collectively to deliver the good as a batting unit.
2. England boasts of Galaxy of Match Winners
The England team boasts of a series of match winners who can swing the game in favour of their side. While the batting has some belligerent stroke maker like Alex Hales, Eoin Morgan and Joe Root, they have destructive power hitters like Ben Stokes and who can finish games for their side in a blink of an eye. Meanwhile, Pakistan lacks that matchwinning ability which they had in plenty at one point in time. With the exception of Mohammad Aamir with the ball and Shoaib Malik with the willow, they seem short of an impact player to finish off games.
3. England's Ominous form in the league games
England form in the tournament has been the best among all teams in the group stages. England were the first team to qualify for the semis on the back of three impressive wins against New Zealand and old foes Australia. Meanwhile, Pakistan's run to the semis has been a combination of good cricket backed by good fortune aided by rain .While they were completely outclassed by arch-rivals India in their opening game, they came back to upset a formidable South Africa and edged past Sri Lanka in a tricky encounter.
4. England playing on home turf at Cardiff
England would definitely love playing in front of their home fans on home turf at Cardiff in Wales. Home advantage definitely plays a crucial role in lifting the morale and confidence of a side in a big game like the Champions Trophy semifinal. The British crowd would surely be partisan towards the home team and the 'Barmy Army' is expected to cheer the Lions on with their vociferous chants.
5. England destructive middle and lower order
England's lower middle order has more firepower than Pakistan courtesy a string of ace finishers in Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler. This would be instrumental in turning around the match in their favour if it goes down to a tense encounter. Meanwhile, Pakistan has exhibited weakness while encountering tense situations and have often found themselves stuttering to finish off games.