Wright gives England dream start
Luke Wright vindicated his recall to the international fold by striking an outstanding 99 not out to ensure England began their World Twenty20 defence in ideal fashion.
Wright had been in the international wilderness for just over a year prior to being selected for this tournament and the preceding NatWest International T20s versus South Africa.
He rewarded the selectors’ faith against Afghanistan today, falling one short of a deserved century from number three as England amassed 196 for five after being asked to bat.
Showing a shot selection that was sometimes missing earlier in his career, Wright delivered the kind of innings that has been a hallmark of his last year in domestic competitions around the world.
He peppered the boundaries all round the wicket, particularly straight, in striking eight fours and six sixes.
His knock was the outstanding effort in a quite excellent total on a two-paced pitch; Alex Hales, Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler chipped in with 31, 27 and 15 respectively.
The minnows showed few signs of chasing that, slipping to 26 for eight following a dreadful start to the reply.
Gulbdoin Naib hit an entertaining unbeaten 44 from number eight to steer Afghanistan past the lowest score in T20 international history, which is 67, yet could not stop his side being eliminated.
England, for whom Jade Dernbach, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann and Samit Patel took two wickets apiece, qualified for the Super Eights in the process.
5.58pm - WICKET & END OF INNINGS! Naib b Dernbach c Morgan 44; AFG 80 all out - England are through to the Super Eights with a comprehensive 116-run victory. Naib tries one shot too many and only succeeds in launching Dernbach high into the night sky, with Morgan moving round from point to take a simple catch. A shame Naib couldn’t get his half-century - but a great knock from the number eight, who was the only Afghan to reach double-figures.
5.57pm - Naib picks up another four through the long-on region off Finn, then thrashes the penultimate ball of the 17th over behind square for four more. An incredible shot - he was almost standing at silly point when he played it!
5.50pm - WICKET! Zadran lbw Swann 9; AFG 70/9 - Zadran gets down on one knee to launch Swann over the deep midwicket boundary. That takes Afghanistan past the lowest score in international Twenty20 history, but a displeased Swann has his revenge next ball as Zadran plays all round a straight one to be about as plumb lbw as it’s possible to be.
5:45pm - Maybe Naib should move up the order; he is playing a lovely little innings here, albeit in a losing cause. Dernbach is struck for successive maximums as the number eight moves into the thirties.
5:33pm - We have just the second boundary of the innings as Gulbodin Naib drives Swann down the ground for four. And there’s the third! The batsmen goes over midwicket with a slog-sweep this time. And there's a six over long-on for good measure; maybe they can get past 67 after all.
5:22pm - WICKETS! Nabi b Patel 1; Dawlat st Kieswetter b Patel 0; AFG 26/8 - I must say, this is a pretty diabolical performance from Afghanistan, who are just nine overs into the reply. Mohammad Nabi is bowled by Samit Patel attempting a wild slog-sweep and Dawlat Zadran stumped going down the pitch. The lowest T20I total is 67 by Kenya - something that looks a long way off for Afghanistan now.
5:18pm - WICKET! Shenwari c Finn b Swann 2; AFG 25/6 - Yet another update, yet another wicket. Samiullah Shenwari tries and ambitious reverse-sweep and duly hits Graeme Swann to Finn at deep point, or is it deep square-leg given he became a left-hander? Either way, he's out!
5:11pm - WICKET! Stanikzai c Bairstow b Broad 4; AFG 22/5 - What a catch this is from Jonny Bairstow! Two in two now for England; Stanikzai plays a Broad short ball terribly and Bairstow, diving forward, takes an excellent catch running in from fine-leg.
5:09pm - WICKET! Sadiq run out Buttler 5; AFG 22/4 - Another one goes. Asghar Stanikzai clips to midwicket, where Jos Buttler produces a fine diving stop and runs out Karim Sadiq at the non-striker's end.
4:57pm - WICKET! Mangal c & b Broad 8; AFG 14/3 - Afghanistan are sinking without a trace now. Mangal does not get enough bat on an attempted pull and Broad takes a difficult caught-and-bowled chance. Easy as you like.
4:56pm - Skipper Nawroz Mangal finds Afghanistan's first boundary with a clip through wide mid-on, yet England are still comfortably on top. Very difficult for the batsmen at the moment and here comes skipper Stuart Broad.
4:45pm - WICKET! Shafiqullah c sub (Bopara) b Dernbach 0; AFG 2/2 - Any hopes Afghanistan had of chasing this have pretty much evaporated already. Shafiqullah's attempted slog also flies in the air, and Ravi Bopara takes a simple chance at point.
4:40pm - WICKET! Shahzad b Finn c Broad 1; AFG 2/1 - Barely time to breathe and we are away again. Steven Finn with the new ball for England and he starts perfectly as dangerman Mohammad Shahzad skies an attempted slog and is caught by Stuart Broad at mid-off.
4:29pm - END OF INNINGS – ENG 196/5; WRIGHT 99 NOT OUT - Wright does not get hold of the first ball of the final over and takes one before Bairstow hits a full-toss high over midwicket and just gets four. A single comes from the next and all eyes are now on Wright; can he become the first England batsman to get an international Twenty20 ton? Well, he takes a single before Bairstow hits to long-on to fall for 12. Right, Luke, what can you do? He’s on 97 facing the final ball! Dawlat delivers and Wright can only get two over midwicket! What a shame. He joins Hales by grabbing the joint top-score in the format by an England player. He would have taken it at the start, as would England, who have a huge total.
4:22pm - Here’s Jonny! What a start from Jonny Bairstow, who crashes Dawlatzai over midwicket for six. Oh, and it is a no-ball as well; the free hit goes for one, but he’s over-stepped again! And it’s a six for Wright – confirmed by the third umpire. The catch was taken brilliantly at midwicket, but he then steps on the rope. Sloppy cricket as it was a free hit and the batsman would not have been out anyway. Wright does not care; he puts himself in touching distance of a century by launching over mid-off and mid-on for two more sixes followed by a single. Thirty-two off the over and England are 184 for four heading into the last; Wright’s on 95.
4:16pm - WICKET! Buttler lbw Dawlatzai 15; ENG 159/4 - Wright enjoys a moment of luck when he edges Nabi to third man, where a sitter is shelled. Jos Buttler then shows why he is one of English cricket’s most talked-about players at the moment with two glorious strokes over cover for four. The Somerset man finds the boundary again via a pull through midwicket before being trapped plumb in front by one that keeps low. A good little knock that, spanning just seven deliveries.
4:10pm - WICKET! Morgan c Mangal b Dawlatzai 27; ENG 141/3 - Izatullah Dawlatzai commits the cardinal sin of a front-foot no-ball that Morgan despatches over cover for four. The left-hander then edges the free hit to third man, where a catch is dropped. It is not later in the over, however, as skipper Nawroz Mangal catches at midwicket as Morgan mistimes a full-toss.
4:04pm - England slow up a little before delivering another huge over, this time off Mohammad Nabi. Morgan gets the ball rolling with a flick over midwicket for six, before Wright profits from two mis-fields and hits fours either side of a maximum over long-off. Eighteen off that set of six.
3:52pm - FIFTY! Wright (34b 5x4 2x6) - The run-rate slows up a little as Wright and Eoin Morgan struggle to get the ball, which is not coming on to the bat, away. The former, however, shows incredible power to break the shackles, launching Shenwari over long-on for six before picking up another four with a slog-sweep.
3:39pm - WICKET! Hales run out Sadiq 31; ENG 69/2 - Wright continues to look the better of the batsmen as, having mis-timed a drive down the ground that fell safe, he succeeds repeating the shot for a four. Hales falls in disappointing fashion the next over as Karim Sadiq deflects Wright’s drive on to the stumps at the non-striker’s end. Always a disappointing way to go, that.
3:34pm - The introduction of leg-spinner Samiullah Shenwari stems the tide somewhat as just four runs come from his opening over. Izatullah Dawlatzai also shows tweak may well be the way forward, delivering some right-arm darts that briefly befuddle the England batsmen.
3:27pm - This is now an excellent start for England as Wright and Hales begin to find their feet – albeit with the odd delivery keeping low. Wright continues his quite brilliant knock with a glorious drive through point, after which his partner delivers two straight boundaries – one in the air and the other along the ground. That’s the end of the powerplay, with England sitting pretty on 52 for one.
3:22pm - Another fine shot from Wright, who profits on Dawlat Zadran dropping too short by pulling over midwicket. The paceman responds thereafter, cutting England’s number three in half with one before his namesake Shapoor beats Hales with extra bounce - only for the ball to go for four byes. The opener then puts worries over a two-paced pitch behind him with a glorious cut stroke, followed up by a flick through leg for another boundary. A MASSIVE over is complete by Wright finding the fence down the group before launching a maximum in the same area; 23 from that set of six.
3:13pm - This is excellent stuff from Afghanistan, who are putting England under real pressure early on. Alex Hales gets off the mark with the first boundary, an edge over slip, but ball continues to dominate as the batsmen struggle to get it away. Luke Wright breaks the shackles, however, with a flowing cover drive off Shapoor.
3:05pm - WICKET! Kieswetter b Shapoor 0; ENG 0/1 - We have had the national anthems and Shapoor Zadran will open the bowling for Afghanistan. The first ball does not get up at all, which seems to make Craig Kieswetter a little circumspect. Well, he does not last long! From the last ball of the over, a tame forward defensive proves the opener’s undoing as the ball bounces into off stump via an inside edge. Fine start for the minnows; not so much for the defending champions.
2:50pm - The crash, bang, wallop bonanza was lit up earlier today when Brendon McCullum struck a sparkling century as New Zealand thoroughly outclassed Bangladesh. England are hoping to deliver some fireworks of their own; they will certainly be confident having beaten Australia and Pakistan in warm-up games.
2:38pm - Here are the teams in full:
England - Craig Kieswetter (wicketkeeper), Alex Hales, Luke Wright, Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Samit Patel, Stuart Broad (captain), Graeme Swann, Steven Finn, Jade Dernbach.
Afghanistan - Mohammad Shahzad (wicketkeeper), Nawroz Mangal (captain), Karim Sadiq, Asghar Stanikzai, Mohammad Nabi, Samiullah Shenwari, Shafiqullah, Gulbodin Naib, Izatullah Dawlatzai, Dawlat Zadran, Shapoor Zadran.
2:35pm - England have opted to play four specialist bowlers - Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn and Jade Dernbach - while Samit Patel also gets the nod. Danny Briggs, Ravi Bopara, Michael Lumb and Tim Bresnan have missed out.
2:32pm - AFGHANISTAN WIN TOSS AND BOWL - Afghanistan skipper Nawroz Mangal has called correctly and put England in. Stuart Broad admits he would have made the same decision, yet is confident his troops can deliver the goods on what looks a cracking surface.
2:25pm - Hello and welcome to ecb.co.uk's live coverage of England's first game of their World Twenty20 defence - against Afghanistan. It's a cool and clear evening in Colombo, and the toss will be coming up in a few moments.