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World T20: England need to fix grey areas against fighting Afghans

Source: PTI
Last updated on: March 22, 2016 15:35 IST
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The 2010 champions' under-fire bowlers and fielders are up against a potent, if not marauding, Afghanistan batting line-up that gave South Africa a scare in their last match.

Joe Root

IMAGE: England's Joe Root, right, celebrates after scoring a half century as teammate Jos Buttler looks on during the ICC World T20 match against South Africa in Mumbai. Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters.

Their campaign back on track after a stunning victory over South Africa, a resurgent England will be looking to plug their bowling loopholes when they take on an ever-improving Afghanistan in a Super 10 Group 1 match of the ICC World Twenty20, in New Delhi, on Wednesday.

After being bruised and battered by Chris Gayle in the six-wicket defeat to the West Indies in their tournament-opener, England, facing a must-win situation, rode on Joe Root's class act to register a close two-wicket victory over South Africa in a high-scoring encounter to keep their hopes alive.

Chasing a mammoth 230-run target, Root single-handedly got England over the line with a thundering 83 off 44 balls. If not for his heroics, England would have been virtually out of the tournament after their bowling department leaked runs for a second consecutive match.

Even though they start as favourites against Afghanistan, they know well that their bowlers need to put up an improved performance.

The 2010 champions' under-fire bowlers and fielders are up against a potent, if not marauding, Afghanistan batting line-up that gave South Africa a scare in their last match.

The performance of England's opening pace duo of David Willey and Reece Topley against South Africa the other day can be termed horrendous, as they sprayed the ball on both sides of the wicket and conceded runs aplenty.

The likes of Chris Jordan and Ben Stokes too were very expensive, while the spin duo of Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid looked good even though they too went for runs. The key now for England is how effectively this spin pair performs.

If England want to alter their pace combination they have Liam Plunkett, a late replacement for the injured Steve Finn, to call upon. Their batting in the tournament thus far was satisfactory, with Root leading from the front.

However, they need a collective effort from the likes of Alex Hales, Jason Roy, Stokes, Jos Buttler and skipper Eoin Morgan to make themselves a potent force in the tournament.

With a win and a loss under their belt, England are currently fourth in the five-team group and victory on Wednesday will definitely propel Morgan's men up in the standings.

Mohammad Shahzad of Afghanistan

IMAGE:Afghanistan wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad, centre, celebrates with teammates. Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters..

Minnows Afghanistan lost both their matches -- to Sri Lanka (by six wickets) and South Africa (by 37 runs). But despite the defeats the Afghans, who advanced to the Super 10 stage for the first time, showed great character in those two matches.

They may be virtually out of the semi-final race following the two defeats, but they are aiming to spoil the party of others and show the world their might in the remaining matches in the tournament.

Led by Asghar Stanikzai, the Afghan batting department, which also has Mohammad Shahzad and middle-order batsman Mohammed Nabi, crossed 150-run mark in both matches, but it their inexperienced bowling unit that needs to come to the party to hand their team maiden victory in the event.

Teams (from):

England: England: Jason Roy, James Vince, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Moeen Ali, Eoin Morgan (capt), Jos Buttler (wk), Ben Stokes, Sam Billings, David Willey, Liam Plunkett, Reece Topley, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Liam Dawson.

Afghanistan: Asghar Stanikzai (capt), Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Noor Ali Zadran, Usman Ghani, Mohammad Nabi, Karim Sadiq, Shafiqullah Shafiq, Rashid Khan, Ameer Hamza, Dawlat Zadran, Shapoor Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Samiullah Shenwari, Najibullah Zadran, Hamid Hassan.

Match starts: 3 pm (IST)

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