England kicked off their T20 World Cup campaign with a five-wicket victory over Afghanistan – but the run chase was patient and a little precarious rather than pulsating.
After razing their opponents for just 112 thanks principally to Sam Curran’s five-wicket haul, England lost each of their top five in reply before triumphing with 11 balls in reserve in Perth.
Former skipper Eoin Morgan called it a potential “missed opportunity” for England to boost their net run rate with rain likely to be a factor in this World Cup.
Atmospheric phenomenon La Nina has led to wet weather battering Australia’s east coast and England’s matches in Melbourne this week, against Ireland on Wednesday and then hosts and reigning champions Australia on Friday, could be affected by rain.
New Zealand’s net run rate is a whopping 4.45 after they crushed Australia in Sydney, with England’s currently sitting at 0.62.
Speaking to Sky Sports Cricket, Morgan said: “Net run rate could be huge but I really hope it’s not. England bat down to No 10 and if you chased this total in 10 overs eight down, your run rate is brilliant.
“It was possibly a missed opportunity but a lot of the changing room will just be relieved to get the win out of the way and get into the thick of things.”
England pace bowler Mark Wood, who claimed 2-23 from four scorching overs in Afghanistan’s innings said: “It was our intention [to be aggressive with the bat].
“But the ball was swinging, there was bounce, I don’t think it was as easy as people think just to go out there and blast it. The boundaries are massive as well.
“We went out there with that intent, it was talked about, but sometimes you have to play smart cricket and just get the win under your belt.
“Afghanistan are a really dangerous team with match-winners and I am sure they will beat one of the big teams. I’m glad it wasn’t us. I thought we were clinical.”
England skipper Jos Buttler added: “It felt like the ball swung early [in the chasse] against a very talented bowling attack, it didn’t feel easy. We were challenged and it felt like you had to pay respect to the bowlers.
“We could have tried to blast away and been two or three down early and put the pressure onto ourselves. It could have been more fluent, absolutely, but I thought Afghanistan bowled well.”
The batting may have been scratchy but England’s recent results have not been, with Buttler’s side having won each of their last five completed T20 internationals, as well as thumping Pakistan in a warm-up match in Brisbane on Monday.
Sky Sports Cricket’s Nasser Hussain said: “It was a real shock to English white-ball cricket losing Morgan as captain this year and then not winning a series at home in the summer.
“There was a bit of umming and ahing but they won in Pakistan and in Australia and have started well in the World Cup.
“Buttler has played it down a lot, saying England will be there or thereabouts and are a difficult side to beat, but other sides will be seeing them as one of the favourites, without a doubt.”
Watch England’s next T20 World Cup match, against Ireland in Melbourne, live on Sky Sports Cricket on Wednesday. The game starts at 5am.