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England humbled Afghanistan by 116 runs to win their first game of the ICC World Twenty20 2012 on Friday in Colombo. Afghanistan was knocked out of the competition after they were bundled out for just 80 in their answer to England’s total of 196-5.
Earlier, Man-of-the-match Luke Wright fell just short of becoming the second centurion of both the day and the tournament, when he ended up on an unbeaten 99 off 55 balls at the end of England’s 20 overs.
Wright batted through the innings after opener Craig Kieswetter was bowled by Shapoor Zadran in the first over, even before a run had been scored. Not one to shy away from the big shots, Wright’s knock was characterised by eight fours and six sixes. His strokeplay allowed the England side to build their total around him and accelerate towards the end.
His innings equaled Alex Hales 99 against West Indies earlier this year as the highest score by an Englishman in T20 Internationals.
England was sent in to bat and managed just 15 runs in the first four overs, before their innings gained pace when 23 runs came off the fifth over bowled by Shapoor.
Alex Hales put on a partnership of 69 with Wright before he was run out for 31 in the 10th over.
Eoin Morgan (27 off 23 balls) joined Wright to add 72 for the third wicket before he was dismissed in the 17th over attempting a big shot off Izatullah Dawlatzai.
Izatullah picked up another wicket in his next over when he trapped Jos Buttler leg-before wicket for 15, but was then clobbered for three successive sixes by Wright.
England did take their chances as the Afghani bowling was once again let down by their butter-fingered fielding that dropped several catches, not to mention the unspectacular ground fielding that aided a few shots across the boundary line.
Afghanistan began their reply with a daunting target of 197 to win. Opener Mohammad Shahzad managed just a single before a rash heave off Stuart Broad sent him back to the pavillion. His replacement Shafiqullah was gone for a first-ball duck as Jade Dernback tricked him into top edging a short ball. Two wickets in the first two overs put Afghanistan immediately on the back foot and when skipper Nawroz Mangal departed with the score 14-3, the writing was all but on the wall for the minnows of international cricket.
Wickets tumbled at an alarming speed thereafter and with the score at 26-8, the Afghanistan side found themselves facing the ignominy of the lowest total in Twenty20 Internationals by far.
The Afghanistan batting seemed to be devoid of the carefree abandon they displayed against India on Wednesday, up until the arrival of Gulbodin Naib at the crease. He gave his own side’s batsmen a lesson in clearing the ropes with his clean strikes that helped him to a well-played 44 of 32 deliveries. Shapoor Zadran gave Naib good company as the pace bowling duo put on a 9thwicket partnership of 44 before Zadran was caught on the crease by Graeme Swann for 9, just after hitting the off-spinner for a six.
The late fireworks helped the Afghanistan side out of the terrible twenties, taking the score from the unmentionable 26-8 to 80. Naib’s valiant effort finally came undone in the 18th over when he was deceived by a slower one from Dernback.
This was England’s first game of the competition. They will take on India in their second league game on Sunday. With this result, both England and India have qualified from Group A for the Super 8 stage.
OTHER RESULTS TODAY:
Group D: Brendon McCullum record ton flattens Bangladesh