Curran-inspired England beat Afghanistan to launch T20 World Cup bid

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Sam Curran’s breathtaking five-wicket haul and some spectacular fielding led England to a five-wicket win over Afghanistan in their opening match at the Twenty20 World Cup on Saturday in Perth.

England skipper Jos Buttler won the toss and elected to field and his seam bowlers did the trick for the team billed as one of the tournament favourites. Curran, a left-arm quick, returned figures of 5-10 — the first England bowler to take five wickets in a T20 — to send Afghanistan packing for 112 in 19.4 overs.

England, who crashed out in the semi-finals at the World Cup last year in the United Arab Emirates, achieved their target in 18.1 overs — but only after the Afghanistan bowlers proved a point by picking five wickets.

The bowlers stood out. Mark Wood struck with his first ball in the third over of the innings to get Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who had cracked a six in the previous over, caught behind for 10.

Ibrahim Zadran hit back with a six and two fours but the England fast bowlers largely kept a lid on the scoring for the first six overs of powerplay, when only two fielders are allowed outside the inner circle.

England’s star all-rounder Ben Stokes, who bowled the opening over and returned figures of 2-19, came back to get Hazratullah Zazai out, with Liam Livingstone taking a splendid running catch at full stretch in the deep.—AFP

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