Afghanistan v England, World T20 2012, Group A, Colombo September 21, 2012

Wright's 99 helps England start impressively


England 196 for 5 (Wright 99*) beat Afghanistan 80 (Naib 44, Patel 2-6, Broad 2-10) by 116 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

The World Twenty20 continued to conform to expectation - disappointingly so, some will say - as England began the defence of their title with a 116-run hammering of Afghanistan. Luke Wright could not quite follow Brendon McCullum's hundred earlier in the day, but produced a blistering 99 off 55 balls after the holders overcame a slightly tricky start in highly convincing fashion.

Wright became the second England batsman to be stranded one short of a Twenty20 hundred following Alex Hales' innings against West Indies earlier this year. Wright only returned to the line-up at the tail-end of the English season and had not really been earmarked for the No. 3 role until Ravi Bopara's rapid loss of form but, having made a brace of useful 30s in the warm-ups, provided further evidence of his development over the last year. He powered past his previous best of 71 against Netherlands, at Lord's, during the 2009 World Twenty20. England, famously, lost that match but there was never a risk of a repeat.

Unsurprisingly, Afghanistan came out swinging with predictable results. Mohammad Shahzad picked out mid-off, Shafiqullah skied to cover and the captain Nawroz Mangal was brilliantly held by Stuart Broad off his own bowling. Much has rightly been written and said about the fairytale of Afghanistan's rise, but this was a harsh of reality check as they slid to 26 for 8. However, they avoided the heaviest defeat in T20 which is Kenya's 172-run defeat against Sri Lanka in 2007 and Gulbodin Naib, with a gutsy display, ensured they passed Kenya's lowest T20 total of 67.

England, though, did exactly what they needed to. Wright was chiefly responsible for some fierce acceleration as they scored 124 off the second 10 overs of their innings after a slow start against some lively new-ball bowling. He started the final over on 95 and needed three off the last ball to make England's first T20 hundred but could only club a brace through midwicket.

He received solid support from Hales and Eoin Morgan while Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow contributed rapid cameos. There were some costly overs during the innings, most notably 32 off the penultimate from Izatullah Dawlatzai which included two no-balls - the same figure that Wayne Parnell went for at Edgbaston earlier in the month putting it joint second in T20 records. It was also another poor fielding display from Afghanistan - Wright was dropped on 75 - as basic skills let them down as they did against India.

It had not been easy start for England as Shapoor Zadran, who troubled India's top order, produced a superb opening over. Craig Kieswetter appeared confused by the two-paced nature of the pitch and played out five dot balls before dragging into his stumps to complete a rare wicket maiden. Hales slashed his first delivery just over slip in a far from assured beginning and after four overs the score was 15 for 1.

Then the game started to change. Having gauged the nature of the pitch, Hales and Wright located the boundary as Shapoor's third over cost 23 although four of those were byes when the wicketkeeper was beaten by the bounce. The final ball of the over was launched into the stands by Wright as England began to take control with the last two overs of the Powerplay bringing 37.

Hales was unfortunate to be dismissed when Wright's straight drive was deflected into the non-striker's stumps by Karim Sadiq. At 84 for 2 after 12 overs the innings hadn't escaped Afghanistan, but Wright dented Samiullah Shenwari's figures with a six over long-on and followed that by fetching another delivery through midwicket.

Mohammad Nabi, the offspinner, bowled his first two overs for 10 but finished with 0 for 46. Morgan flicked him over deep midwicket - his one convincing shot - and Wright went four, six, four off three consecutive deliveries. There was more of that to come with Buttler continuing where he left off against South Africa and Bairstow drilling his first ball into the stands.

Despite having a vast total on the board it was important England did not slack in the field. The quick bowlers made an early impression, zipping the ball through from back of a length with Kieswetter taking a number of deliveries above his head. There was very little for the batsmen to drive although Steven Finn pushed a few deliveries down the leg side.

Broad decided to use his bowlers by the gameplan so Jade Dernbach was given one up front before the captain brought himself on. After a difficult home season of catching and fielding they began well in that department, with Buttler producing a sharp dive and throw from midwicket to run out Sadiq then, next ball, Bairstow held a stunning catch running in from fine leg against a top edged hook from Asghar Stanikzai.

Graeme Swann started with two maidens then was taken for 16 by Naib who often declined singles and showed why by picking off two sweet sixes against Dernbach to mean there would be no record low for Afghanistan and to help himself to the highest score by a No. 8 in T20 internationals. Nobody should read too much into the result, but it was a good statement by the defending champions.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Roman on September 23, 2012, 22:01 GMT

    Really good analyz by mr BeReal87. afghanistan need a new coach. with all do respect for the current coach, afghanistan shoud move on. new perspective, a academy and facillities for cricketing and founding is the key. i cant believe they(players) have done so much with so little. most player have to find exra job to support thier familes, what kind of preformance u expect from them in cricket ground when they face big nations???

  • John on September 22, 2012, 20:19 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer on (September 22 2012, 08:27 AM GMT) I don't particularly like the format. I wonder why they can't do 4 groups of 4 , have 2 of the major seeded teams in each group and then say a Bangladesh and an Afghanistan. It would be nice to see teams like Afghanistan getting a chance against a Bangladesh or Zimbabwe

  • John on September 22, 2012, 20:19 GMT

    @veerakannadiga/From-INDIA-with-LOVE - refreshingly honest and pleasant comments there. I still don't think that just because our victory was more emphatic means anything though

  • John on September 22, 2012, 20:19 GMT

    @Mahila_Jaywardene_ROCKS/recycle-bin-is-empty/CricketingStargazer - Thanks for the heads up guys. Seems a Mickey Mouse way of doing it but there you go

  • Dummy4 on September 22, 2012, 17:07 GMT

    The problem is with ICC not Afghan Cricket team, cause in pressure game like this we have seen big teams have been down.Like in one of one day match of India, all out 52.but Afghanitan never let happened like that to himself. Anyway, Afghan has the talent,spirit,and passion for this game, now it is the responsibiliy of ICC to provide them with facilities, more oneday matches, and Inter National Balling and Batting Coaches + money.we as Afghans, everyone back at home is happy from the performance of our team and they R the reall embassadors of peace for our Nation. Guys U R our Champs, does a matter if the World do not understand this. At the end, congrats to English team and thanks from all those fans who supported our team.

  • John on September 22, 2012, 15:54 GMT

    I have to say that I find it rather odd that the Afghan batsmen have trouble with short-pitched bowling. Maybe the pitches they get to play on don't bounce all that much but you'd think that, with their bowling attack, the batsmen would be able to get some decent practice against short-pitched quick bowling.

  • Dummy4 on September 22, 2012, 13:52 GMT

    Wright is right for England for all the right reasons. So is the case with many of the other young English boys you have been trying out in recent times. Give all of them enough chances. Don't discard them after a few failures. All of them will do well.This supports the view I have been taking for a very long time: Support your own talented young ones, instead of leaning on the imports. The imports may just walk away leaving your team tumble down like a house of cards.This is the right trend. Soon I will be able to see Wally Hammonds, Len Huttons, Colin Cowdreys, Fred Trumans, Ken Barringtons and so on... at least a bunch of deserving inheritors.

  • stuart on September 22, 2012, 13:43 GMT

    i think Afghanistan have a real future if they are supported.maybe they should tour the Uk to get some experience in foreign conditions. Be interesting to see what the match vs India will bring.As for some of the Aus fans comments it is always good to have your feedback.You were all so strangely quiet during the ODi series.

  • Wali on September 22, 2012, 11:46 GMT


    Thanks for your support for the Afghan team. Currently Afghanistan being an associate member of the ICC they only get something like half a million dollars every year and a little support from the afghan government.

    Most of the international players like Dhoni and Gayle would make more than a million dollars playing in IPL for a few weeks.

    So if there are no funds you can not have any facilities that's why Afghan players travel to Sharjah or Pakistan to get most of their training. I think the ICC and international community should give more funds to Afghan cricket board and that would really help a lot to improve facilities.

    And the second most important thing is having a good coach. Afghanistan can not afford coach from Australia or South Africa and even if they do they would not go to Afghanistan. So i think that issue needs to be resolved as well other than that these cricketers are really hard working and their spirit and enthusiasm can not be matched by anyone.

  • Dummy4 on September 22, 2012, 10:59 GMT

    india will beat england by 8 wickets tomorrow

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