Afghanistan v England, World T20 2016, Group 1, Delhi March 23, 2016

'Beat anyone, but not us'

ESPNcricinfo staff

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.

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.

Nabi was in the thick of things.

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.

Given England's past record against Associates, this might not be a bad idea for their sake.

Some saw the funny side of it.

There was also the spectre of Shahzad looming.

Did England assume it was another Associate they are familiar with?

Some wondered if England were being generous, or keeping up a tradition.

It came down to one essential truth, didn't it?

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.

The turning point in the innings was the 19th over, in which left-arm spinner Amir Hamza was taken for 25 runs.

Deja vu, anyone?

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.

Soon enough, Afghanistan found themselves at 39 for 5.

It was a good opportunity for England to boost their net run rate.

And to play with kites.

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.

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.

I

It was an improvement for 'New' England.

Or was it?

Comments have now been closed for this article

  •   Lmar Khplwak Kharotay on March 26, 2016, 15:00 GMT

    well done Afghanistan, you make it interesting where association couldn't make cricket,

    ICC should consider 2 things against Empire: 1) first Moen Ali mistake which not given out while he was definitely out and 2) Najeebullah Run out. as Moen Ali showed one player can change history of the match in T20I but Empire make down Afghanistan 2 players.

  • WardakAfg. on March 24, 2016, 4:26 GMT

    my msg. to the big teams is play with us more often and see how Afg. beat you! England got lucky.

  • Alibaba2016 on March 23, 2016, 20:43 GMT

    It was fun to read this piece. Great performance by Afghanistan. Two things let them down: their inexperience to handle pressure and the umpire for not giving Moeen Ali out when he was caught in front of wicket for ibw appeal in 18th over.

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