'Beat anyone, but not us'
After Mohammad Shahzad's whirlwind start in their chase against South Africa, many were looking forward to Afghanistan testing England, a team not new to being upset by Associate teams.
Things started well for England despite a wicket in the third over: they were 42 for 1 after 5.2. That's when they lost three in three balls. Cue a Twitter meltdown.
Yesterdays frenzy at the end of the England women's game has been caught by the men's team at the start...— Iain O'Brien (@iainobrien) March 23, 2016
Mohammad Nabi had James Vince caught-and-bowled before Eoin Morgan left one alone, only to see it crash into the stumps, to the disbelief of many.
The big wicket was that of Joe Root, who was run out after Nabi showed his presence of mind. He had dislodged the bails while collecting the ball, but managed to get a stump out in time.
It was Nabi's first over, and England closed the Powerplay at 42 for 4.
That 6th over from Nabi was the most fun over in the tournament so far. It's going to take a helluva lot to top it.— stuart hess (@shockerhess) March 23, 2016
Nabi was in the thick of things.
Nabi swoops like a seagull (not many of those in Delhi) at extra cover, and Buttler goes. England 50-5!— Lawrence Booth (@the_topspin) March 23, 2016
Things got worse for England when Ben Stokes inside-edged on to his stumps off legspinner Rashid Khan. It got a former England allrounder worried.
I was genuinely hoping Afghanistan would beat one of the major cricketing teams , but not us !!— andrew flintoff (@flintoff11) March 23, 2016
Given England's past record against Associates, this might not be a bad idea for their sake.
Sooner we get rid of these rank amateur associates the better— Barney Ronay (@barneyronay) March 23, 2016
Some saw the funny side of it.
England T20 campaign to continue on Comedy Central HD.— Sim (@SimUKCricket) March 23, 2016
There was also the spectre of Shahzad looming.
Guys, imagine Shahzad batting chasing 115. I reckon he goes even harder.— Peter Miller (@TheCricketGeek) March 23, 2016
Did England assume it was another Associate they are familiar with?
England.— Dennis Freedman (@DennisCricket_) March 23, 2016
You are not playing The Netherlands.
Some wondered if England were being generous, or keeping up a tradition.
I, for one, am proud to see the stand England are taking to promote associate cricket.— Jonathan Wilson (@jonawils) March 23, 2016
It came down to one essential truth, didn't it?
Just comes down to an inability to play spin in subcontinental conditions. Doesn't matter what the format. Same old story #AFGvENG— Huw Turbervill (@huwzat) March 23, 2016
Surely, an exuberant side like Afghanistan should feature in future world events.
Could England avoid this banana skin?
Michael Vaughan could not.
Moeen Ali and David Willey rescued England with their 57-run stand to take them to 142 for 7. Willey, batting at No. 9, had a T20 century in the past.
England entirely justifying their decision to create a team that 'bats deep' in T20 cricket specifically for their match against Afghanistan— King Cricket (@TheKingsTweets) March 23, 2016
The turning point in the innings was the 19th over, in which left-arm spinner Amir Hamza was taken for 25 runs.
Amazing how one over can neutralise the previous 18. #wt20— Ric Finlay (@RicFinlay) March 23, 2016
England just scored more runs in the 19th over than they did in the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th put together.— Jonathan Liew (@jonathanliew) March 23, 2016
A lot of people were excited to watch what Shahzad would have in store. An edge went for four first-ball but he was dismissed two balls later, trapped in front by Willey.
Drat.#AFGvENG— Richard Hinds (@rdhinds) March 23, 2016
Soon enough, Afghanistan found themselves at 39 for 5.
Afghanistan should pad up Inzamam. #WT20— Dan Liebke (@LiebCricket) March 23, 2016
I preferred it when England were 50/5. #MakeCricketFunAgain— stuart hess (@shockerhess) March 23, 2016
It was a good opportunity for England to boost their net run rate.
Still a good chance to get a healthy run-rate boost here if #Eng nip the final wicket out. Which would be an odd end to the day.— Rory Dollard (@thervd) March 23, 2016
And to play with kites.
Kite stopped play.— King Cricket (@TheKingsTweets) March 23, 2016
But it was not all one-way traffic from there on for England, with Afghanistan's No. 9 Shafiqullah finding the big hits at the death.
What is England's success rate percentage with yorkers? About 10% I imagine... Truly awful execution mostly— Oliver Brett (@sport_oliver) March 23, 2016
In the end, it proved too much for him to chase down without much support at the other end. England eventually won by 15 runs.
It was an improvement for 'New' England.
In the bad old days, England would have messed up both innings against an Associate side. These days it's just one innings. Real progress.— Daniel Brigham (@dan_brigham) March 23, 2016
Or was it?