A successful Pakistani chase was on the cards by all accounts, a campaign that was boosted by the form of their early openers, with Azhar Ali and Fakhar Zaman combining for 84 runs at one and two in the order.
Sarfraz and Amir stayed cool; Perera at mid-on then dropped a sitter after Malinga had duped Sarfraz, the biggest and most decisive mistake of an error-strewn yet rather magnificent match. It was vintage Pakistan on display at Cardiff as the fast bowlers, Amir and Junaid Khan, sliced through the Sri Lanka middle order and reduced them to 167/7 from 161/3. But above all, it was a awful fielding display from Sri Lanka that allowed Pakistan to set a date with title-favourites England in the last-four on Wednesday (tomorrow). Sri Lanka were hit hard as they lost another wicket in the next over and the momentum was back with Pakistan. The wicket-keeper batsman shared an unbeaten 75-run stand with Amir for the eighth wicket as Pakistan overhauled the target with 31 balls to spare.
Captain Sarfraz Ahmad and his men survived a Sri Lanka scare to qualify for the semifinals of the ICC Champions Trophy here on Monday.
His dismissal appeared to take some of the sting out of the innings as wickets started falling as Sri Lanka looked to have taken control.
Two balls later, medium-pacer Fahim Ashraf struck on his ODI debut when Dinesh Chandimal played on for a duck. Sarfraz ensured he didn't threw his wicket away as well and kept Pakistan in the hunt by putting on brilliant partnership with Mohammad Amir. With these wins, both Sri Lanka and Pakistan will now have a great opportunity to make it to the semis of Champions Trophy this year. Pakistan's heavy loss to India and their narrow win over South Africa has given them a net run-rate of -1.508, which is the worst among all the teams.
Mathews' side briefly regathered as Asela Gunaratne and Suranga Lakmal forged an important partnership of 46.
Lakmal and Gunaratne batted well towards the end to propel Sri Lanka to a decent total before removed the pair.
"We all know he is coming back after a while and if you look at the India match, he gave us the break through picking Rohit Sharma when they were batting really well".
Despite his team's increasingly perilous looking position - particularly when Fahim (15) became the seventh wicket to fall, run out when dozily backing up too far out his crease at the non-striker's end - Sarfraz, unfazed, patiently ticked off the runs required.