Wednesday, March 23, 2016

World Cup T20 : England vs Afghanistan

England taking on minnows Afghanistan at the Kolta grouns of New Delhi would seem like a cake walk. But history says, that the English team has struggled against the minnows earlier as well in World T20.....some kind of a bogey for them.
Having won the toss, England decided to bat first & put up a total. The decision backfired, as the Afghani spinners cast a web & wickets tumbled at regular intervals.The power plays produced 42 runs, but at the expense of 4 wickets, & at the end of 15th over score read a dismal 87 for 7. The spinners, Nabi, Shenwari & Rashid Khan were superlative giving nothing away, their 12 overs collectively gave away just 57 runs, scalping 5 wickets. The 100 mark came in the 18th over, as Moeen Ali & David Willey tried to stitch a rearguard action. The 19th over was a cracker, as both batsmen timed the ball sweetly over the fence for invaluable 25 runs & the last over produced another 10 runs !!!....it was resurrection England. It was 142 for 7 in the end. Where, even 100 looked beyond reach at the end of 15th over, it was some sensible total to defend now.
Moeen Ali had played a sweet cameo of 41 runs while Willey made 20, adding 57 runs in just 5.3 overs, bringing England back in the game. It was also a World record for 8th wicket in T20.
The reply from Afghanistan was not the way they would have planned. Md Shahzad, their mercurial opener got out in the first over itself, after getting a sneaky boundary. Wickets kept tumbling at short intervals, as the pressure of chase mounted. It was the inexperience in the line up that crumbled, & an easy run chase turned out to be a stiff one. There were small contributions from  players like Nabi, Shenwari, Zadran & Shafiullah ( a brilliant 35 off just 20 deliveries), but in the end, it was not enough, as the innings folded for 127 runs for 9 wickets. England eventually romped home winners by 15 runs, & Afghanistan were left to rue their chances. In fielding, after holding tight till the 18th over, they allowed England to sneak away with 40 odd runs in the last couple of overs, Then then in chase, their key batsmen, Shahzad & Stanikzai, got out cheap, adding pressure to the inexperienced middle order.....a lot of lessons for them to learn.
Moeen Ali is the Man of the Match.
For England, it was a reprieve from the minnows, & their net run rate has also improved. Now their match against the defending champions Sri Lanka becomes crucial...a win will ensure passage to semis for sure.

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