England v Afghanistan, World T20 2012, ColomboDefending Champions Take on Afghanistan20-Sep-2012 16:20:00 GMT
Colombo: Afghanistan will look to press on from their impressive showing against India with another good display against defending champions England. England on the otherhand will look to get their title-defense off to a solid start and send out a warning to the other teams vying for top honour in Sri Lanka
The minnows would surely be heartbroken following their 23-run defeat to India yesterday, but they can take heart from the fact that the former champions were made to toil hard.
The presence of Afghanistan in the island nation means they are one of the 12 best T20 teams in the world.
From fleeing their war-torn homeland, to staying in makeshift refugee camps and earning ODI status -- the Afghan cricketers have indeed come a long way.
It's been a huge leap for the impoverished South Asian nation to have made it to the World T20 for the second consecutive time.
Against India, while chasing 160, Afghan batsmen showed patches of brilliance in their stroke-making but sheer inexperience saw them get all out for 136 in 19.3 overs.
Mohammad Nabi cracked a 17-ball 31 while Karim Sadiq (26) and Mangal (22) also came up with handy contributions. Pacers Shapoor Zadran and Dawlat Zadran also bowled well in tandem, sharing three wickets between them.
However, Afghanistan's sloppy fielding that resulted in them dropping as many as four catches, does not augur well for the side. Defying expectations, though, has become something of a habit for them.
On the other hand, England, looking to become the only team in the short history of T20 to have successfully defended the crown, will be on a high after posting wins against Australia and Pakistan, in their two warm-up games.
The English batsmen would however do well to pull up their socks if they are to fancy their chances of making the Super Eights as against Pakistan, they were shot out for a paltry 111 after opting to bat.
They made up for the batting failure by restricting Pakistan to 96 for nine on a bowler-friendly pitch at the P Sara Oval on Wednesday.
Danny Briggs, a 21-year-old left-arm spinner, claimed three wickets for 15 runs while seamer Jade Dernbach finished with three for 14, as Pakistan's batsmen faltered against the pace-spin duo.
In batting, Luke Wright's 38 off 36 balls was the only notable contribution as the other batsmen failed to apply themselves. England lost their last five wickets in the space of just eight deliveries.
England would like to keep the winning momentum going against Afghanistan, two days before the big-ticket encounter with India at the same venue on Sunday.
The Stuart Broad-led side would want its batsman to come good against the Afghans. A win will ensure a Super Eights berth for the champions even before they take on India in their second and final group league match.
A smooth start will certainly help the side hit a good rhythm, and the team management will have an idea about the performance of their preferred combination.
England: Craig Kieswetter (wk), Alex Hales, Luke Wright, Eoin Morgan, Jonathan Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Samit Patel, Stuart Broad (captain), Steven Finn, Danny Briggs, Michael Lumb, Tim Bresnan, Jade Dernbach, Ravi Bopara, Graeme Swann
Afghanistan: Mohammad Shahzad, Nawroz Mangal (captain), Karim Sadiq (wk), Asghar Stanikzai, Mohammad Nabi, Samiullah Shenwari, Shafiqullah Shafiq, Gulbodin Naib, Najibullah Zadran, Dawlat Zadran, Shapoor Zadran, Mohammad Nasim Baras, Izatullah Dawlatzai, Hamid Hassan, Javed Ahmadi
Pitch and conditions
If a forecast rain shower appears in the morning, that may liven things up even further.
Stats and trivia
- This will be the first meeting in international cricket between England and Afghanistan.
- Mohammad Nabi's career strike-rate of 146.73 is better than that of any Englishman ever to play T20Is.
- The England squad contains seven of the starting XI from the 2010 World Twenty20 final.
Friday September 21, 2012 (day/night)
Start time 1930 local (1400 GMT, 3pm BST)