|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Fantasy||Mobile|
The Preview by Alan Gardner
September 20, 2012
While Afghanistan, like Ireland, no longer benefit from the element of surprise - England will have watched their defeat to India, in addition to the hours of video analysis - the brio and verve that infuses their cricket still manages to act like an adrenaline shot. Afghanistan's effervescent rise in world cricket has not yet brought the scalp of a Full Member but the margins of defeat are getting smaller and a particularly poor display in the field, when they dropped four catches, was the main difference against India. That is an area Afghanistan must address but there is a sense that heroic near-misses will only suit them for so long.
For England, a win will produce no fanfare but would secure progression from Group A. Their status as both the No. 1 team and the defending champions sits uneasily with a young squad playing in unfamiliar conditions but two contrasting victories in tight warm-up matches suggest they have taken their preparations seriously. England will be happy to doff their caps respectfully and avoid a duffing up, otherwise serious questions will be asked. You imagine that Kevin Pietersen, in his role as a pundit for ESPN Star Sports, would be happy to field a few of them.
Watch out for
While 32 not out is not a high score to make bowlers quake, the fact that Jos Buttler nonchalantly carved 30 of those runs off one Wayne Parnell over (that included two no-balls) changes the equation somewhat . Buttler has a cool head to go with his power and invention and must now trade the pressure of proving himself for the weight of expectation. His last T20I innings was a Fabergé egg but England will hope for something more on the scale of an ostrich's in the near future.
Afghanistan (possible) 1 Mohammad Shahzad (wk), 2 Javed Ahmadi, 3 Nawroz Mangal (capt), 4 Karim Sadiq, 5 Asghar Stanikzai, 6 Mohammad Nabi, 7 Samiullah Shenwari, 8 Shafiqullah, 9 Gulbodin Naib, 10 Dawlat Zadran, 11 Shapoor Zadran
England have had a settled line-up in T20 cricket this year and they may decide that now is not the time to start experimenting. Luke Wright has seemingly confirmed himself as Ravi Bopara's replacement at No. 3 after impressing during the warm-up matches and the main question is whether they will play another spinner. If they stick with the three-man pace attack and attempt to rough up Afghanistan on a quick pitch, Danny Briggs could be the man to miss out. A bold move would be to note the problems of Afghanistan's batsmen when pace was taken off the ball and play Briggs.
England (possible) 1 Craig Kieswetter (wk), 2 Alex Hales, 3 Luke Wright, 4 Eoin Morgan, 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Jos Buttler, 7 Samit Patel, 8 Stuart Broad (capt), 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Steven Finn, 11 Jade Dernbach
Pitch and conditions
Stats and trivia
"We have to accept there might be a few nicks fly past the wicketkeeper, and a few smashes over extra-cover and 'cow'."
England captain, Stuart Broad, knows what is coming
US readers can watch the match live here, coverage starts 30 minutes before the game begins.
|Comments have now been closed for this article
ESPNcricinfo picks five players for whom this IPL is of bigger significance
The Plays of the day from the match between Kolkata and Mumbai, in Abu Dhabi
Wahab Riaz, the Pakistan left-arm quick, on the pain of missing out on a ten-for, and his love for numbers and batting