World Twenty20 2016: England survive Afghanistan scare
|ICC World Twenty20, Group 1, Delhi:|
|England 142-7 (20 overs): Moeen 41* (33), Nabi 2-17, Rashid 2-17|
|Afghanistan 127-9 (20 overs): Rashid 2-18, Willey 2-23|
|England won by 15 runs|
|Scorecard & standings|
England were given an almighty scare before beating Afghanistan by 15 runs in Delhi to keep their World Twenty20 campaign on track.
England lost three wickets in an over to slip to 42-4, then 57-6, but got to 142-7 thanks to a 33-ball stand of 57 between Moeen Ali and David Willey.
Willey then removed Mohammad Shahzad in the first over of the Afghan reply.
From there, regular wickets meant Afghanistan were never in the chase, eventually falling away to 127-9.
It meant Afghanistan, the only side outside of Test cricket left in the competition, missed out on recording their first win against one of the game's major nations.
Eoin Morgan's men will definitely reach the last four if they beat Sri Lanka on Saturday and South Africa are defeated by West Indies on Friday.
On a true, if sluggish, surface, England shambolically collapsed to the Afghanistan slow bowlers in a four-over spell that saw the 2010 champions lose five wickets for 15 runs.
- 5.3 overs, Vince c&b Nabi 22 (Eng 42-2) - James Vince, in the side for the injured Alex Hales, advances to give a leading edge back to the bowler
- 5.4 overs, Morgan b Nabi 0 (Eng 42-3) - Morgan inexplicably leaves his first ball to be bowled by the impressive Nabi
- 5.6 overs, Root run out 12 (Eng 42-4) - an awful run out. Ben Stokes fails to respond to the call of Joe Root, with England's in-form batsman failing to get back.
- 8.1 overs, Buttler c Nabi b Shenwari 6 (Eng 50-5) - Nabi is in the game again, this time taking a an excellent catch at short cover after Jos Buttler drives at Samiullah Shenwari
- 9.2 overs, Stokes b Rashid 7 (Eng 57-6) - the most embarrassing of the lot. Stokes looks to pull a Rashid Khan long-hop, misses and as is bowled as he ends up sitting on the ground.
In all, Afghanistan bowled 16 overs of spin, with six of England's wickets falling to the slow bowlers.
Off-break bowler Nabi and 17-year-old leg-spinner Rashid conceded only 17 runs from their respective spells of four overs, while England went through a spell of 42 deliveries in which they scored just one boundary.
... and the comeback
Moeen had no choice but to rebuild, first in the company of Chris Jordan, then with Willey.
After a period of slow accumulation that looked to have England well short of a competitive total, Moeen and Willey finally launched their attack in the 19th over, bowled by slow left-armer Amir Hamza.
Moeen heaved a slog sweep for six and flat batted four down the ground, before Willey found huge maximums straight and over the leg side.
With 25 off that over going towards a total of 44 off the final three, England had a score they could defend if they bowled well.
Call off the chase
Despite the shift in momentum, Afghanistan still posed a threat in the shape of explosive opener Shahzad, only for Willey to trap him in front with an inswinger from the third ball of the innings.
Liam Plunkett, in the side for Reece Topley, caused discomfort with his pace and bounce, his figures of 0-12 the third-most economical by an England bowler who has completed four overs in a T20.
In the end, it was not close, but the margin of victory did not reflect how near England were to another embarrassment.
What they said
England captain Eoin Morgan: "We didn't really adapt to the surface when we were batting. David Willey and Moeen Ali played really well to allow us to put a score on the board, but we fielded and bowled well."
Man of the match Moeen Ali: "We wanted to give ourselves time, take it to the last three overs and have a hack at the end. It was about getting the job done against a good side. It was a tough game."
Afghanistan captain Asghar Stanikzai: "The guys in the top order lost wickets early to poor shots. The pitch wasn't difficult and they didn't take responsibility. That's a big reason as to why we lost."