England kicked off their T20 World Cup campaign with a five-wicket win over Afghanistan thanks to seamer Sam Curran’s haul of 5/10 and a sublime effort in the field.
Afghanistan crumbled to 112 all out in 19.4 overs after being sent in to bat. Ibrahim Zadran (32) and Usman Ghani (30) provided the only resistance before falling to Curran, who claimed his career-best figures in 3.4 overs.
England chased down the modest target with 11 balls to spare, reaching 113/5 and maintaining their unblemished record in Perth after three visits.
In what was a sedate powerplay of 35/1 for Afghanistan, opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz was the first to depart, caught behind for 10 during a fiery opening spell by Mark Wood (2/23), who clocked speeds reaching 154kmph.
England were aided by spectacular fielding by Liam Livingstone and Adil Rashid who held on to running catches off Ben Stokes (2/19).
Before Curran cleaned up the tail, captain-keeper Jos Buttler joined in on the acrobatic act, completing a flying one-handed catch after Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi tickled Wood down the leg-side on three.
In England’s response, Livingstone top-scored with an unbeaten 29 from 21 balls.
Skipper Buttler feels Curran has the “character” for bowling at the death and the all-rounder is “thriving with the extra responsibility” of bowling in pressure situations.
“He (Curran) demands the ball in those (death overs) situations, which is a great attitude to have. He always wants to bowl,” said Buttler.
Player of the Match Curran said he was trying to “be as adaptable as possible” in different phases of the game.
Written with inputs from Reuters/PTI