Sam Curran scores five as England beat Afghanistan in T20 World Cup.

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By Creative Media News

England began their T20 World Cup campaign with a victory, but not with an all-around performance that would strike fear into their opponents. Mark Wood’s four overs here were the quickest in the tournament’s history, but their scoring was significantly slower, and they reached their total of 113 with 11 balls and five wickets remaining.

Sam Curran became the first Englishman to take a five-for in a Twenty20 international as he decimated Afghanistan’s lower order in the latter stages of their innings, claiming four wickets for no runs in six balls over two overs for a total of five wickets for 10 runs.

The Afghans, rather than finding the accelerator in their final few overs, found the self-destruct button, falling from 106 for 5 with three overs remaining to 112 all out with two balls remaining.

Sam curran scores five as england beat afghanistan in t20 world cup.
Sam curran scores five as england beat afghanistan in t20 world cup.

The question then was whether England’s answer would be full-bore or lackluster, and while they never appeared to be in imminent danger of defeat, they opted for the latter. When Liam Livingstone edged the ball leg side for four in the 14th over, it was astonishingly their first boundary since the fifth over.

Eight of the first 14 World Cup games have been won by the team batting first, reversing the enormous tilt towards chasing that many believed tainted last year’s championship.

However, England inclines to bat second, as Jos Buttler indicated at the toss, and the low target allowed them to temper their more aggressive attacking impulses. It must have been tempting for them to assault their opponent with utmost vigor and strive to increase their net run rate early on, but they determined that the wisest course of action was to cause them just minimal discomfort.

Win over afghanistan
Sam curran scores five as england beat afghanistan in t20 world cup.

After the powerplay, they had 44 to one, which was only nine more than Afghanistan had at the same point. By the end of the ninth over, Buttler had been dismissed for 18, Hales had been dropped twice and caught once, and England had reached a score of 52-2. There will not be many games in this championship in which such a score is not a precursor to doom.

However, in this instance, their bowling was sufficient to allow it. On a pitch as spongy as moldy lettuce, and with Chris Woakes healed from a slight thigh injury that was set to keep him out of the game 24 hours earlier, England took the initiative.

Following this, the bowlers and fielders displayed exceptional precision, discipline, and catching to ensure that the Afghanistan innings never got momentum. There was no early flurry of wickets – it came later – but because the run-scoring was as sluggish as the bowling was at times electrifying, England assumed control swiftly.

They repeated the recent experiment of opening the bowling with one over from Ben Stokes, but Woakes and Wood destroyed the powerplay. After failing to take a single wicket at last year’s World Cup, Wood took one with his very first delivery, which sped past Rahmanullah Gurbaz, flicked the inside edge, and flew into Jos Buttler’s gloves.

He had to ask his fellow opener, Hazrat Zazai, what had transpired before leaving the field. In his first over, Wood’s fastest delivery was recorded at 96mph, setting the tone for his evening. He has worked diligently on his variations and has slower balls in his arsenal, but he did not utilize them during the four overs in which his slowest delivery registered 88mph.

In the meantime, England’s catching was exceptional, and they prepared a highlight reel of amazing catches. Livingstone’s was the first and quite likely the greatest, as he circled to his right and dove forward to reject Zazai.

Moeen Ali caught a high ball dropping over his shoulder as nonchalantly as if he were scratching his chin or removing earwax, and if Adil Rashid did not take a similar approach to a superficially comparable attempt, it was only because of the distance he had to travel. After Mohammad Nabi gloved the ball down the leg side, Buttler supermanuevered to his left to retrieve the ball.

There was much to commend, as well as plenty to improve.

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