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CARDIFF, Wales:  Pakistan defeated England by a big margin of eight wickets in the first semi-final of the ICC Champions Trophy here at the Sophia Gardens on Wednesday.

Hosts England, who had won their all three matches in Group A, were outplayed in  both batting and bowling by Pakistan who were the lowest ranked side in the eight-team Champions Trophy tournament.

After being beaten miserably by their rivals India in their first match in the tournament, Pakistan came from behind to defeat top-ranked South Africa and then Sri Lanka, and now emerged victorious against England to march into the final of the event for the first time.

They will now face the winners of the second semi-finals – India and Bangladesh – in the final to be played at The Oval on Sunday

Chasing an easy target of 212, Pakistan completed their victory with 11.5 overs remaining.

Babar Azam and Mohammad Hafeez remained not out on 38 and 31, respectively.

Fakhar Zaman and Azhar Ali provided an impressive start as both batted with confidence to make together 118 runs for the first wicket. This was for the first time in the Champions Trophy since 2009 that   an opening pair was involved in a century partnership after India’s Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan.

Fakhar made 57, his second consecutive fifty, from 58 balls with seven fours and a six.

Later Azhar Ali also completed his fifty, 11th in his 49th ODI. Together with Babar Azam, he added 55 runs for the second wicket stand before being got out.

He scored 76 off 100 balls with five fours and a six.

Earlier, Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and sent England into bat who found it hard to play against an accurate bowling with no batsman making a fifty and the whole team was bowled out for 211 in 49.5 overs.

Pacer Hasan Ali was the most successful bowler with three for 35 while left-arm pacers Junaid Khan and Rumman Raees claimed two wickets each. Leg-break bowler Shadab Khan took one wicket.

Rumman with two Twenty20 Internationals was playing his first One-day International today.

The main scorers for England were Joe Root (46), Jonny Bairstow (43), Ben Stokes (34) and Eoin Morgan (33).

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