ICC Champions Trophy 2017: England vs Pakistan, 5 players to watch out for

LEEDS, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 01:  Ben Stokes (2R)  of England celebrates with Moeen Ali (R) after taking a catch off the bowling of Chris Jordan to dismiss Sharjeel Khan of Pakistan during the 4th Royal London One -Day International match between England and Pakistan at Headingley on September 1, 2016 in Leeds, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
England will hope to overcome Pakistan and seal a berth in the finals

England take on Pakistan in the first semi-final of ICC Champions Trophy 2017 at Cardiff with huge expectations from the home crowd after they surged to the semis by beating Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh in the group stages.

Pakistan, on the other hand, edged out Sri Lanka and South Africa to finish second in their group but are considered underdogs in this fixture. Bowling is their forte and if they are to contain England, one of their premier pace bowlers will have to be on top of their game.

Extra Cover: ICC Champions Trophy 2017, England vs Pakistan: 5 things Pakistan should do to beat England

England are well balanced despite the loss of Chris Woakes and would look to put pressure on a vulnerable Pakistan batting line-up. Ben Stokes, who smashed a hundred in the last game against Australia, will be expected to step up yet again if the top order fails against the Pakistani seamers.

Here are five players to watch out for from the first semi-final at Cardiff.

#5 Junaid Khan

CARDIFF, WALES - JUNE 12:  Pakistan bowler Junaid Khan in action during the ICC Champions League match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan at SWALEC Stadium on June 12, 2017 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Junaid Khan has been a revelation ever since coming back into the ODI squad

The exceptional Pakistan seamer came into the playing XI after Wahab Riaz was ruled out of the tournament. Junaid impressed with an economical spell against South Africa and then ripped Sri Lanka apart with a penetrative spell of fast bowling.

Partnering Mohammad Amir at the top, Junaid has been top notch thus far. His ability to swing the ball back into the right-handers will be handy against the England top three.

Record against England

Matches - 1, Wickets - 1, BBI - 1/53, Avg - 53.00

#4 Joe Root

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 01:  Joe Root of England salutes the crowd as he leaves the field after hitting the winning runs to win the ICC Champions Trophy group match between England and Bangladesh at The Kia Oval on June 1, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Joe Root will be England’s linchpin

Big games need big names to step up and England need their premier batsman, Joe Root, to continue his fine run in the Champions Trophy. So far, Root has been impressive with the bat without being ebullient and the semi-final could present him with the right platform to peak.

Root will be vital in the line-up, especially with Jason Roy's failures at the top. Amir and Junaid present an altogether different challenge for the English batsmen. Imad Wasim and Mohammad Hafeez are consistent with their wicket to wicket line and Root will be required to play out their spell and take England to the death without the loss of too many wickets.

Record against Pakistan

Matches - 9, Runs - 419, HS - 89, Avg - 46.55

#3 Fakhar Zaman

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 07:  Fakhar Zaman of Pakistan hits out during the ICC Champions Trophy match between South Africa and Pakistan at Edgbaston on June 7, 2017 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Fakhar Zaman has impressed at the top of the order for Pakistan

Dropping Ahmed Shehzad for Fakhar Zaman was possibly the best decision Pakistan made in this tournament. The aggressive southpaw has relieved the pressure on Azhar Ali with his attractive stroke play and exuberant shots.

Known for hitting the ball a mile, Zaman will once again be expected to get Pakistan off to a flying start in the semi-final. With the conservative Azhar at the other end, Pakistan need early impetus in their innings and Zaman needs to provide them with that. If he can disrupt the lengths of the England seamers early on, Pakistan stand a good chance of crossing the 300-run mark.

Record against England

Zaman is yet to play against England. In fact, the left-handed opening batsman is set to play just his third ODI.

#2 Jake Ball

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 01:  Jake Ball of England bowls during the ICC Champions Trophy group match between England and Bangladesh at The Kia Oval on June 1, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Ball has had mixed results in the tournament

The England seamer emerged from a thrashing at the hands of Bangladesh to take home the Man of the Match award against New Zealand in the following game. He opened the attack in place of Woakes and hit the right lengths from ball one. He was wicketless against the Aussies in the following game, but his new ball spell will be crucial against Pakistan.

Ball can get the new ball to seam both ways. He has a good cross seam delivery as well as a plethora of cutters to bowl at the death. With Pakistan's batting line-up capable of imploding at any time, Ball's line and length in the opening spell could be something to watch out for.

Record against Pakistan

Ball hasn't played against Pakistan before.

#1 Jos Buttler

CARDIFF, WALES - JUNE 06:  Jos Buttler of England looks up towards the ball during the ICC Champions Trophy match between England and New Zealand at the SWALEC Stadium on June 6, 2017 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Buttler boasts of a pretty good record against Pakistan

The England wicket-keeper has had very little to do with the bat in this tournament with the likes of Alex Hales, Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Eoin Morgan in top form. Buttler did contribute a 48 ball 61 against the Kiwis and also remained unbeaten in the chase against Australia but he has had limited time at the crease.

With the England top order under threat against the disciplined Pakistan pace trio of Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan and Hasan Ali, Buttler may be required to step up with the bat. He has delivered whenever the team has needed him and will once again be required if the top order has an off day. He also has a pretty good record against Pakistan in ODIs.

Record against Pakistan

Matches - 8, Runs - 271, HS - 116*, Avg - 67.75

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Edited by Staff Editor
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