Wright start for fiery England
Defending champs outclass Afghanistan to enter Super Eight along with India
Unable to come anywhere near their spirited display on Wednesday night that won many a heart for the rookies, the Afghans were bundled out for just 80 in 17.2 overs by a rampaging England who had earlier posted an impressive 196/4 thanks mainly to Luke Wright’s brutal yet classy 99 (55b, 8x4, 6x6) here at the R Premadasa stadium on Friday.
Afghanistan’s second defeat ensured a Super Eight berth for both India and England from Group ‘A’ with the defending champions scheduled to take on MS Dhoni and Co on Sunday.
It was a clinical performance from the English attack who gave little breathing space for the Afghan batsmen. The pace of the English trio — Steven Finn, Jade Dernbach and Stuart Broad — was way too disconcerting for the minnows while they gifted away their wickets away to spinners in an attempt to make up for their near no-show against fast bowlers. But for Gulbodin’s entertaining cameo (44, 32b, 5x4, 3x6), the only individual double digit score, Afghanistan would have crashed to the lowest T20 total. Kenya hold the dubious record of 67 all out against Ireland in 2008.
Afghanistan had begun on a promising note with Shapoor Zadran sending down a wicket-maiden first over after their skipper Nawroz Mangal once again hit it lucky with the toss and opted to bowl first.
The left-arm seamer, who had troubled the Indian openers before getting rid of them on Wednesday, dismissed Craig Kieswetter after keeping the right-hander quiet for the first five balls. The opener played the final ball on to his stumps, the similar fashion in which Gautam Gambhir had perished.
For the next three overs the two Zadrans, the other being Dawlat, kept a tight leash on the English batsmen before Alex Hales and Wright broke the shackles taking 23 runs off Shapoor’s third over, including four byes. The paceman had given just five runs in his first two overs and he never bowled again in the match.
Izatullah Dowlatzai went for 14 runs in the next over as England plundered 52 runs in the six-over Power Play period and appeared on way for a huge total. The introduction of spinners, however, stemmed the flow of runs. On a surface that had uneven bounce and discernible turn, the likes of Samiullah Shenwari, Karim Sadiq and Mohammad Nabi proved difficult to score off freely though England’s run-rate chugged at a healthy seven-plus an over.
It wasn’t until after the 15th over that England’s innings gathered full steam and Wright, perhaps the most under-rated T20 player, was the driving force. The right-hander, pulling off one clean hit after another, clobbered Nabi for 21 runs in the 16th over to change the course of the innings. During his onslaught on Nabi, the all-rounder also went past his previous T20 best of 71 against the Netherlands in 2009, though that knock had come in a losing cause.
The Afghans continued to commit school-boyish errors on the field and dropping Wright on 75 by Dowlatzai turned to be a costly error. The dropped catch returned to haunt Dowlatzai in the penultimate over as Wright launched a merciless battering.
Though Jos Buttler fell in the second ball of the over, Wright smashed 28 runs in the next six balls, including two no-balls, to put the issue beyond Afghanistan for all practical purposes, the sequence of the reading – 4, out, 6nb, 1nb, 6, 6, 6, 1.
With six balls left to complete the second century of the meet, Wright could only manage four in that over. The personal disappointment, however, would have been masked by England’s thumping win.
Kieswetter b S Zadran 0
Hales (run out) 31
Wright (not out) 99
(55b, 8x4, 6x6)
Morgan c Mangal b Dawlatzai 27
(23b, 1x4, 1x6)
Buttler lbw Dawlatzai 15
Bairstow c Sadiq b D Zadran 12
(5b, 1x4, 1x6)
Patel (not out) 0
Extras (B-4, LB-2, W-3, NB-3) 12
Total (for 5 wkts, 20 overs) 196
Fall of wickets: 0-1 (Kieswetter), 2-69 (Hales), 3-141 (Morgan), 4-159 (Buttler), 5-194 (Bairstow).
Bowling: S Zadran 3-1-24-1, D Zadran 4-0-22-1, Dawlatzai 3-0-56-2 (nb-3), Shenwari 4-0-33-0, Sadiq 2-0-9-0, Nabi 4-0-46-0 (w-2). Runs during Power Play: 1-6 overs: 52/1.
Shahazad c Broad b Finn 1
Mangal c & b Broad 8
Shafiqullah c Sub b Dernbach 0
Sadiq (run out) 5
Stanikzai c Bairstow b Broad 4
Nabi b Patel 1
Shenwari c Finn b Swann 2
Naib c Morgan b Dernbach 44
(32b, 5x4, 3x6)
D Zadran st Kieswetter b Patel 0
S Zadran lbw Swann 9
Dawlatzai (not out) 0
Extras (LB-1, W-5) 6
Total (all out, 17.2 overs) 80
Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Shahzad), 2-2 (Shafiqullah), 3-14 (Mangal), 4-22 (Sadiq), 5-22 (Stanikzai), 6-25 (Shenwari), 7-26 (Nabi), 8-26 (D Zadran), 9-70 (S Zadran). Bowling: Finn 4-0-24-1 (w-4), Dernbach 2.2-0-16-2, Broad 3-1-10-2, Patel 3-0-6-2, Swann 4-2-22-2, Wright 1-0-1-0 (w-1).
Runs during Power Play: 1-6 overs: 22/5.