England Begin Title Defence With Crushing Win

England Begin Title Defence With Crushing Win
England Begin Title Defence With Crushing Win
©REUTERS / Action Images

England 196-5 (Wright 99no) beat
Afghanistan 80 (Patel 2-6) by 116 runs
ICC World Twenty20 2012 Group A, Colombo
Report by Chetan Narula in Colombo

England got their title defence off to the perfect start at R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. They beat Afghanistan by a whopping 116 runs, never breaking sweat in the process.

Afghanistan won the toss and again elected to field first hoping to inflict some early damage and give the defending champions a little scare, but their ploy, which worked well two days ago against India, didn't really work out this time.

They started well enough though, with Shapoor Zardan giving them a dream start, bowling a wicket maiden over first up. Criag Keiswetter was his victim, playing on for a six-ball duck.

For another three overs, Afghanistan kept the reins on the scoring. Luke Wright and Alex Hales continued playing a watchful game, before opening up. Shapoor's third over, the fifth of the innings, cost 23 runs as the batsmen finally cut loose. It was a huge blow, knocking the wind out of the fielding side, who seemed to have lost all heart from thereon in.

Wright and Hales put on 69 runs for the second wicket and were unlucky that their stand was broken. A straight drive from Wright found the bowler's hands and Hales was run out backing up too far. He made 31 runs off 27 balls with five fours.

Eoin Morgan then came to the crease and again the two batsmen waited patiently for their time. Afghanistan deployed their slower bowlers, who managed to put the brakes on the scoring, just 15 runs coming from overs ten to twelve. In the 13th over though the shackles were broken and after reaching 100 in the next over, the batsmen started plundering runs openly.

The 16th over took the life out of the Afghan side, who were already at the end of their wits with poor fielding and catching making a mockery of their efforts. He smacked two fours and one six as 22 runs came off Mohammad Nabi. Then in the 19th over, Wright went into overdrive, hitting three sixes off Izatullah Dawlatzai and jumping into the nineties.

The hundred never came though and he was left stranded on 99 not out. He scored his runs off only 55 balls, inclusive of eight fours and six sixes.

England finished at a mammoth 196 for five from their 20 overs. Jos Buttler made 15 off seven balls (three fours) and Jonny Bairstow scored 12 off five balls with a four and a six, both coming in to bat in the death overs. Shapoor was the best bowler for Afghanistan with one for 24 off his three overs. Dawlatzai finished with two for 56 from his three.

No one really expected the Afghans to chase it down. But none anticipated the meek surrender that was on display, either, especially after they had given India a fight just 48 hours ago. England used pace and bounce in the pitch to good effect and the batsmen just had no response.

None of their top seven reached double figures, eight by captain Nawroz Mangal the best score among them. Gulbodin Naib threw his bat around long enough to lengthen Afghanistan’s innings, as England eased off the pressure.

He scored 44 off 32 balls, hitting five fours and three sixes. It gave some entertainment to the sparse crowd that had begun thinning further after the innings had been reduced to 26 for eight in the ninth over. He was last man out in the 18th over, as England rounded up a superb display ahead of their clash against India on Sunday.

Samit Patel was the best bowler with figures of two wickets for six runs from his three overs. Jade Dernbach (two for 16), Stuart Broad (two for 10) and Graeme Swann (two for 22) were the other wicket-takers, seemingly almost a training session for them.

© Cricket World 2012

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