Sam Curran led the way with excellent figures of 5/10 as title contenders England, aided by some incredible catches, bowled out Afghanistan for 112 in a Super 12 Group 1 match.
A winning start for England in the Super 12 💪🏻#T20WorldCup | #ENGvAFG https://t.co/sqy9tllXQv
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While left-arm fast-medium bowling all-rounder Curran did the bulk of the damage, England were also helped by as many as three stunning catches after Jos Buttler opted to bowl.
As It Happened
Ibrahim Zadran (32) and Usman Ghani (30) were the two main contributors for Afghanistan.
When England batted, Liam Livingstone (29 off 21 balls) was there till the end to see the team through after they lost five wickets. England won with 11 balls to spare.
The first England bowler to take a five-wicket haul in men’s T20Is 🌟Sam Curran 👏🏻#T20WorldCup | #ENGvAFG https://t.co/M9r7Mp4hLS
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Buttler did not last long, falling for an 18-ball 18 to Fazalhaq Farooqi but the Afghans did not have enough on the board to pose any sort of threat to an English line-up that bats deep.
Alex Hales, too, got out after making 19 in 20 deliveries but that did not come in the way of a convincing England victory.
Ben Stokes (2) was out cheaply too, leaving England at 65 for three in the 11th over. It became 97 for five in the 16th over, when Rashid Khan had Harry Brook (7) caught by Ibrahim Zadran.
On a lively Optus track that encouraged a good contest between the bat and the ball, Afghanistan managed 35 runs in the powerplay after losing Rahmanullah Gurbaz in the second over.
Declared fit for the game after being hit by Shaheen Afridi during the warm-ups, Gurbaz produced an outrageous shot to pull Chris Woakes over fine-leg for a six, but a quick 146kph Mark Wood delivery cut short his stay in the middle as he edged it to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler.
Wood welcomed Ibrahim Zadran with a 154kph thunderbolt that went past the outside edge after holding its line from just back of a length. However, the next ball was a full toss and it was duly smashed through the covers, easing Zadran’s nerves.
After hardly getting the strike, Hazratullah Zazai got into the act by playing Woakes over cover point for a boundary.
Wood kept bowling fast at the other end, but Zadran was equal to the task, flaying a mean short ball from the English pacer over fine leg for a maximum.
As Afghanistan entered the middle overs looking to improve the run rate, Liam Livingstone pulled off a blinder running in from the deep, to signal the departure of Zazai after the batter had looked to slash one over third man. Ben Stokes, who opened the proceedings for England, was the bowler on that occasion.
With Afghanistan at 37 for two in seven overs, Sam Curran was introduced into the attack, and Usman Ghani flicked him for four.
However, England succeeded in keeping things tight in the middle before Curran returned to dismiss Zadran, thanks to a fine catch by Moeen Ali at backward point.
Meanwhile, Stokes was seen grimacing after completing his third over, but it did not look serious.
Najibullah Zadran hit Adil Rashid for a six straight down the ground in a 13-run 13th over before Wood came back to check the flow of runs.
Stokes sent back Najibullah, this time it was the turn of Adil Rashid to come up with a brilliant catch as the fielder, stationed at mid-on, he went back and completed an excellent catch after covering a lot of ground.
Buttler added his name to the list of phenomenal catches when he grabbed on to the ball after a well directed short ball by Wood had Mohammed Nabi in all sorts of trouble.