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regular-article-logo Monday, 20 May 2024

World Cup 2023: Title holders England aim for all-round brilliance against struggling Afghanistan

Defending champions England gear up for a comprehensive performance, focusing on boosting their net run rate against Afghanistan in the World Cup

Our Web Desk New Delhi Published 15.10.23, 11:29 AM

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  • End of the first innings! Afghanistan posts a solid total of 284 runs on the board. England, aiming to maintain their unbeaten streak in WC2023, now faces a challenging target. The stage is set for an exciting chase
  • Ikram Alikhil reaches a well-deserved half-century! Some excellent shots in the last powerplay have propelled Afghanistan to a total of 277 after 48 overs. England appears frustrated as Afghanistan builds a competitive score.
  • After 40 overs, Afghanistan pushes to 219/6. Rashid Khan and Ikram Alikhil are striving to maximize the score, providing their bowlers with a defendable total. They aim to finish strong and set a challenging target for England
  • Joe Root, the captain, takes a crucial wicket for England. Afghanistan's skipper, Shahidi, departs as the ball hits the top of off stump. Shahidi scored 14 off 36 balls. It's time for drinks on the field. Afghanistan reach 186/5 after 35 overs
  • Ikram Alikhil seizes an opportunity and smashes a six. Joe Root drops one short, and Alikhil hammers it over deep midwicket for a massive hit. Liam Livingstone concedes a single in the 30th over. Afghanistan is at 167/4 after 30 overs
  • Liam Livingstone strikes for England. Omarzai attempts a wild heave to the leg side but only manages a top edge, sending the ball high up. Chris Woakes positions himself underneath and takes the catch. Omarzai departs, scoring 19 off 24 balls with 1 four and 1 six. Afghanistan is now in a precarious position
  • OUT! Afghanistan loses another wicket as Azmatullah Omarzai departs, caught by Chris Woakes off Liam Livingstone's bowling. The score stands at 152/4 after 26 overs. Ikram Ali Khil is the incoming batsman
  • First, he dismisses Rahmat Shah with a beautiful delivery, leaving Hashmatullah Shahidi next in line. In the very next ball, a mix-up between batsmen results in Gurbaz getting run out. Rahmat Shah scores 3 off 8, and Gurbaz departs for a brilliant 80 off 57. Afghanistan stands at 123/3 after 20 overs
  • Adil Rashid makes a crucial breakthrough for Afghanistan. Ibrahim Zadran departs, scoring 28 off 48 balls, caught by Joe Root. Afghanistan stands at 115/1 after 17 overs. Rahmat Shah comes in at number 3.
  • Hundred partnership achieved, propelling Afghanistan to 102/0 after 13 overs. Gurbaz and Zadran showcasing exceptional teamwork and aggressive batting. England's bowlers struggling to break through
  • Spinner introduced for the first time in the match as Adile Rashid starts his first over. Second ball and a great half-century by Rahmanullah Gurbaz with a glorious four. This is his 3rd international ODI half century which comes in 33 balls. Score reaches 86/0 after 11 overs
  • Afghanistan's Gurbaz and Zadran demonstrate aggressive batting, securing boundaries and a massive six. They reach 78/0 after 10 overs, establishing a formidable foundation. England's bowlers continue to grapple for momentum.
  • Afghanistan's openers, Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran, start aggressively, capitalizing on England's early struggles with line and length. Gurbaz hits a six and a four, displaying great form. Topley bowls a tight, maiden over in the second. In the third over, Gurbaz strikes a six and another boundary, capitalizing on an extra wide from England. Topley follows with a fourth over of four singles, maintaining Afghanistan's steady progress. The fifth over, bowled by Woakes, proves challenging as Gurbaz hits two brilliant fours. Afghanistan looks strong at 35/0 after 5 overs, setting a solid platform for their innings
  • England playing XI: Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Joe Root, Harry Brook, Jos Buttler (wk/c), Liam Livingstone, Sam Curran, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood, Reece Topley
  • Afghanistan playing XI: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Alikhil, Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Naveen-ul-Haq, Fazalhaq Farooqi
  • While England named an unchanged team, Afghanistan replaced Najibullah Zadran with Ikram Alikhil
  • England win toss, decide to bowl first against Afghanistan

Their campaign back on track after the humiliating loss in the opener, title holders England would look for a dominating all-round effort against a battered Afghanistan in the World Cup here on Sunday, with eyes firmly set on bettering their net run rate.

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Defending champions England's campaign started on a disappointing note as they lost by nine wickets against New Zealand in the tournament opener in Ahmedabad on October 5.

But the Jos Buttler-led side bounced back in style, humbling Bangladesh by 137 runs in Dharamsala on Tuesday.

Despite putting up a competitive 282 for nine in the opener at a batting-friendly Narendra Modi Stadium pitch, England bowlers were taken to the cleaners by Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra as New Zealand romped home in 36.2 overs.

But England made a superb comeback in their next match with both the batting and bowling departments clicking in unison.

It was not the batting unit which was the cause for concern for England against New Zealand, but their bowling, comprising Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Sam Curran, Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, which looked ordinary when Conway and Ravindra batted.

But in their next match against Bangladesh, England showed their might with a clinical performance.

Opening the batting, Dawid Malan smashed 140 off 107 balls, while Joe Root continued his fine form with consecutive half-centuries. Jonny Bairstow too contributed a valuable 50 up the order.

They would be banking on another good start from their openers to post a massive total on a flat pitch at the relatively smaller Arun Jaitley Stadium that has witnessed huge scores in all the matches it has hosted so far in the tournament.

Besides, skipper Buttler, Harry Brook and Liam Livingstone would also want to mark their arrival in the tournament with substantial contributions in the middle-order.

England's decision to replace an ineffective Moeen Ali with Reece Topley paid rich dividends against Bangladesh as the left-arm pacer inspired the bowling attack with figures of 4/43 from his 10 overs.

Woakes, Wood, Curran and Rashid all returned to form and, not just were they economical, they also picked up wickets. England would look for a repeat performance from its players.

England would not just look for a victory against Afghanistan but would also want to win the match handsomely to boost their net run rate (NRR), which took a beating in their opener.

The Afghans, on the other hand, are low on confidence after successive defeats.

Dark-horses Afghanistan lost by six wickets against Bangladesh before they were thrashed by hosts India by eight wickets.

Come Sunday, they would look for a reversal and cause the first upset of the tournament.

But it is easier said than done.

Afghanistan's concern lies in all departments of their game. In their first outing against Bangladesh, the batters faltered, making a below-par 156. Then, against a batting-heavy India, the bowling attack fumbled despite posting a competitive 272 for eight.

Afghanistan's main concern is the performance of their openers. In the two matches they have played so far, both the openers, Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran, have failed to provide a decent start, which resulted in the team's downfall.

After a below-par show in their opener, skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi and Azmatullah Omarzai rose to the occasion with half-centuries to post a decent total on the board against India.

But Shahidi would desperately want his openers to take the responsibility upfront.

Afghanistan's bowling too looked ordinary in both the matches and the team would look for a much-improved outing from the likes of Fazalhaq Farooqi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Naveen-ul-Haq and Rashid Khan in the upcoming games to match the might of teams such as England, New Zealand and Australia.

Squads:

England: Jos Buttler (captain & wk), Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Harry Brook, Liam Livingstone, Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran, David Willey, Adil Rashid, Mark Wood, Reece Topley, Gus Atkinson.

Afghanistan: Hashmatullah Shahidi (captain), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Riaz Hassan, Rahmat Shah, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Alikhil, Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Abdul Rahman, Naveen ul Haq.

Match starts: 2:00 pm.

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