Wright record thrashes Afghanistan

Afghanistan

A record-breaking 99 not out from batsman Luke Wright and a thoroughly professional, all-round performance with the ball carried England to a resounding 116-run triumph over Afghanistan.

A record-breaking 99 not out from batsman Luke Wright and a thoroughly professional, all-round performance with the ball carried England to a resounding 116-run triumph over Afghanistan in Friday's one-sided World Twenty20 Group A clash at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.

The result capped an entirely flat four days for the tournament minnows, which saw Ireland, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and the Afghans fail to trouble their big-gun opposition despite plenty of initial suggestion they would.

England, meanwhile, hardly put a foot wrong in a resounding message that well and truly promised more from their title defence. Wright was outstanding, the spinners comprehensive and the fast bowlers sound. Coach Andy Flower will be a pleased taskmaster ahead of Sunday's decidedly more important fixture against India.

The rout began with Afghanistan captain Nawroz Mangal's decision to bowl first after winning the toss. Arguably the wrong choice, it amounted to a hefty total of 196 for five on the back of Man of the Match Wright's swashbuckling effort.

Falling a mere single short of a century, the hard-hitting right-hander struck all of eight fours and sixes sixes during his 55-ball stay at the crease, which saw him equal the highest T20I score by an Englishman after opener Alex Hales' 99 against the West Indies earlier this year.

There was nothing merciful about Wright's cameo, with seamer Izatullah Dawlatzai copping the fullest force of his onslaught during one entirely expensive over that brought all of 32 runs, four consecutive sixes included.

Hales and Eoin Morgan, meanwhile, flanked Wright with complementary knocks of 31 and 27 respectively. Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow later added to the impetus, crashing 27 runs from a dozen deliveries between them.

Afghanistan's reply was monumentally insufficient, falling to the disastrous lows of 26 for eight before lower-order batsman Gulbodin Naib's brave defiance in the face of impending doom took his side past the unwanted record of the lowest team total in the history of T20I cricket.

Naib orchestrated a career-best 44 from 32 balls, cherishing five boundaries and three sixes along the way, and shepherded the strike away from the tail-enders with precision planning. His gallant cause was never going to extend the full 20 overs, however, and ended to the second ball of the 18th, when he holed out on the off-side.

While Afghanistan managed to surpass the desperate 67 all out Kenya fell to against Ireland in Belfast four years ago, Friday's 80 all out weighed in as the nation's joint-lowest ever. Had Naib not denied numbers 10 and 11 just one of a slew of singles, that tally would surely have reached marginally greater proportions.

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