England began their Twenty20 World Cup campaign with a five-wicket win over Afghanistan on October 22 courtesy of seamer Sam Curran’s haul of 5-10 and a sublime effort in the field.
Afghanistan crumbled to 112 all out in 19.4 overs after being sent in to bat. Ibrahim Zadran (32) and Usman Ghani (30) provided the only resistance before falling to Curran, who claimed his career-best figures in 3.4 overs.
England chased down the modest target with 11 balls to spare, reaching 113-5 and maintaining their unblemished record at Perth Stadium after three visits.
“We do a lot of hard work on our fielding, it will be a massive factor in the tournament I think,” man-of-the-match Curran told reporters.
“We knew it would be a tricky chase… we won in the end and that’s the most important thing.”
In what was a sedate powerplay of 35-1 for Afghanistan, opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz was the first to depart, caught behind for 10 during a fiery opening spell by Mark Wood (2-23) who clocked speeds reaching 154 kph.
England’s bowlers continued to cramp the batsmen during the middle overs, aided by spectacular fielding by Liam Livingstone and Adil Rashid who held on to running catches off Ben Stokes (2-19) to send Hazrat Zazai (seven) and Najibullah Zadran (13) on their way.
Before Curran cleaned up the tail, captain-keeper Jos Buttler joined in on the acrobatic act, completing a flying one-handed catch after captain Mohammad Nabi tickled Wood down the leg-side on three.
In England’s response, Alex Hales (19) was dropped twice before Fazalhaq Farooqi stuck the third chance.
Nabi held a diving catch at cover to see off Dawid Malan (18) and although wickets fell regularly as England batted conservatively, they never found themselves in any real danger.
Livingstone top-scored with an unbeaten 29 from 21 balls.
“We need to get better at playing the full 40 overs,” said Afghanistan head coach Jonathan Trott.
“I’d have liked less dropped catches, less fumbles, less misfields.”