Batsmen need to adapt better - Farbrace
Paul Farbrace, England's assistant coach, has admitted the team put in a disappointing batting display against Afghanistan but praised the application that allowed them to emerge with a 15-run win in Delhi.
England have won two games in a row, in wildly differing circumstances, after losing their opening match with West Indies and still have their sights set on a semi-final spot. Having chased down 230 to beat South Africa in Mumbai on Friday, England stuttered to 142 for 7 against Afghanistan but put in an improved bowling display to secure victory.
"We can talk about a developing team, a team lacking experience, but it's also about winning and I think that the character we showed in the second half of the game was excellent," Farbrace said. "I thought we showed really good character.
"But we were very disappointed with the way that we batted. There's no fudging that. We didn't adapt to the conditions. We didn't work out that the ball was skidding on and played for turn that wasn't there. The Afghan bowlers bowled in the right way, they bowled wicket-to-wicket and encouraged us to hit across the ball. We did, and lost wickets.
"There certainly will have been a decent discussion at the end of the game, and there will probably be more over the next couple of days, through practice, leading up from Saturday. We know we've got areas to improve, we're not going to hide behind anything. We've got to keep working hard on our all-round game. We've played half a game again, but we have won which is the most important thing."
England's fluctuating form has reflected their inexperience - both of international cricket and the conditions in India. Their final Group 1 match will be against Sri Lanka on Saturday, with a win required to give them a realistic chance of reaching the last four.
While Sri Lanka are the defending champions, they are also rebuilding after the retirements of Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, as well as the loss of Lasith Malinga to injury. Farbrace was in charge when they lifted the trophy in 2014, while England coach Trevor Bayliss has also been at the helm with Sri Lanka, and they will not be taking the challenge lightly.
"Sri Lanka have got some high-quality bowlers," Farbrace said. "[Rangana] Herath would have loved to have bowled on that surface, so he's someone we're going to have to prepare and practise well for for Saturday. [Tillakaratne] Dilshan is another one, he skids the ball on. Yes he does spin it, but he's also a very experienced bowler.
"They're a very good side. In Graham Ford they've got a fantastic coach. Angelo Mathews is an exceptional captain. They've had a tough little period in the last few months. In Mahela and Sanga they've lost two hugely experienced players who have been fantastic guys for them on the field. But they've still got good players, and they're capable of beating anyone on their day, as we are, and as anybody is in this tournament.
"Between Trevor and myself we know a fair bit about them and their players, but our focus will be on us and what we need to do and how we need to win the game."
Farbrace also offered words of encouragement for England's captain, Eoin Morgan, whose first-ball duck against Afghanistan extended his run of middling form in white-ball cricket, with his last ODI or T20 half-century coming 16 innings ago on the tour of the UAE.
"In practice - and you'd expect me to say this - he's striking the ball very well," Farbrace said. "The one thing that Eoin is, he's very honest. He's not someone who'll be kidding us and making excuses. He misjudged the ball. He makes an error, and that costs you a wicket. But I think he's been hitting the ball really well, practising really well.
"He's the sort of bloke who is our experienced man, and maybe he feels that in this side he carries a fair bit of weight on his shoulders in terms of experience going into every game. Maybe he feels he has to do more than he needs to, and that's something that only he knows. But between now and Saturday, there'll be a decent discussion with him, making sure he's clear in his own mind how he's going to play, and making sure that his plans are absolutely right."