T20 World Cup 2022, Gr 1, ENG v AFG: Despite Curran's brilliant 5-10, scratchy Eng crawl to victory
Updated: Oct 23, 2022
ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022, Group 1, England v Afghanistan: Sam Curran's 5-10, Ben Stokes 2-19, Mark Wood's 2-23 and Liam Livingstone's 29 are top performances. England beat Afghanistan by 5 wickets and move to second place in points table.
Brief Scores – Afghanistan 112 (Zadran 32, Ghani 30, Curran 5-10) lost to England 113-5 (Livingstone 29*, Hales 19, Rashid 1-17)
Player of the Match – Sam Curran (5-10)
The second game of ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 took place between 2010 World T20 champions England and Afghanistan at the new Perth Stadium on Saturday. Unlike the other editions of T20 world cups where Afghanistan had to play the first round for staking a claim to the Super 12 stage, it was different as they had earned a direct entry into the main draw basis their improved performances over the last two years, specially in the T20 format.
Both these teams have only played twice in T20Is (in 2012 & 2016 WCs) and England were victorious on both occasions. England captain Jos Buttler won the toss and opted to field on a fresh wicket, which gave impressions of pace and bounce from afar.
England bowlers impress but scratchy start by batters
Mark Wood’s pace and bounce is a serious threat not only for Afghanistan but the rest of the teams will also be having to be wary of the damage Wood can bring to the table. A fightback from the strong bowling unit of Afghanistan was the only outlier for Afghanistan from this game. A scratchy start to the tournament for both the teams with respect to their batting units.
Sam Curran’s 5-10 bundles out Afghanistan for 112
Jos Buttler with the captain’s hat started differently than what was anticipated, giving the new ball to Ben Stokes who bowled some beautiful outswingers. As soon as Mark Wood was introduced in the third over, he picked a wicket with his very first delivery.
After the first 10 overs, Afghanistan were playing at less than a run a ball with just 55 runs on the board with two wickets down. The pace and bounce on offer from the surface and the inexperience of Afghanistan batters on Australian soil was clearly visible with the way they were being targeted by back of a length and short deliveries.
The next 10 overs Afghanistan punctured like a tyre on a road filled with nails. Sam Curran was the man in charge of the damage with a five-wicket haul accompanied by Wood and Stokes which helped England bundle out Afghanistan for a mere total of 112 runs in their 20 overs. This was only the second occurrence in world cricket where all the 10 batters were dismissed caught in an innings, the first happened in an encounter between Austria and Germany in 2022.
England also started quite slowly and cautiously with just 40 runs on the board in the first six overs. Dawid Malan was trying to hold one end up with a very Test match like innings and broke the record of Bairstow (21 deliveries) of most balls faced by an England player without a boundary (30 deliveries).
Afghanistan bowlers fought really hard defending this mediocre total of 112 runs as England were down to 81-4 after 14 overs and a loophole was observed with England’s middle order which can be exploited by the rest of the teams. A swashbuckling 29* from Liam Livingstone left no stones unturned for England as they won the first match of their World Cup campaign.
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Let’s scan the top three performances from the game between England and Afghanistan in ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022.
Sam Curran dislodges Afghanistan with smart variations
Sam Curran was playing a different role on Saturday, unlike how he has been previously used as a new ball bowler; in this match, Curran only bowled one over in the first 10 overs. He came back into the attack in the 12th over to outfox the well-settled Zadran with a beauty of a slower delivery. Curran again came back in the 18th over and the story was no different this time too; he picked wickets, this time two back-to-back wickets.
Utilising the bounce, the Perth pitch offered, Curran bowled short stuff to Azmatullah Omarzai right on the body which he couldn’t sway away from giving catching practice to Stokes stationed at deep mid-wicket. With Rashid on strike who is known for his strong bottom hand play on fuller balls, Curran was in no mood to get whacked. He bowled a bouncer again and Rashid could just top edge the on the body ball to Hales.
The man with the golden arm was on a hat-trick now with back-to-back wickets. Though he missed out on a wicket on the first delivery of his final over, he didn’t disappoint as he ensured he swamped the Afghanistan tail with two wickets in four deliveries. Curran capitalised well on the pressure created by some serious pace bowling by Wood and Stokes with some smart off-cutters and sharp on the body short deliveries. This was the first time ever an England player took a five-wicket haul in T20Is and notably was also the best bowling figures for any England bowler in T20I.
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Wood and Stokes unsettle Afghanistan batters with pace and bounce
Fast, faster, fastest and then comes Mark Wood Fast. The cricketing pundits have signed a petition to Oxford to put Mark Wood Fast as a new superlative adverb. The conditions favoured the bowlers and Mark Wood exploited the conditions like no one else could have. Sheer raw and threatening pace, disturbing and terrorising batters mentally. Picking a wicket with his very first delivery, Wood put his mark on this T20 World Cup right away with a jaffa of a delivery on a good length nipping away from the batter, who could just edge it past to the keeper.
Ben Stokes who bowled the first over of the innings also came to the party, picking Hazratullah Zazai. But this was more of Liam Livingstone’s wicket than of Stokes, as the fielder took a running diving catch to his front to give competition to Glenn Philips for the catch of the tournament. To top up Livingstone’s catch, Adil Rashid pulled of a stunner at deep mid-wicket to assist Stokes in getting his second wicket in the match.
Mark Wood who was breathing fire at the Perth Stadium, then came back with his bouncers to which Mohammad Nabi had no answers apart from edging it to Buttler who took a goalkeeper like diving catch to his right. This was the first time ever in T20 World Cup history of about 15 years that a bowler bowled all his 24 deliveries above 140 clicks, a record in itself; Wood returned an average speed of 149 kph which is also a record. The mental pressure created by fast and fiery bowling of Wood was evident on the footwork of inexperienced Afghanistan batters who were pushed to the backfoot quite early.
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Liam Livingstone delivers knockout punch with a breezy 21-ball 29
England were down and out at 81/4 and the match looked like it will take an interesting turn in favour of Afghanistan at that point. But Liam Livingstone had other ideas as he played a cameo of 29 (21) to dismiss any chances of an upset. While every batter on both the teams could not hit above a strike rate of 135 on the Perth wicket, Livingstone stood tall with a strike rate of 138.10.