England thrash Afghans by 116 runs to begin campaign in style

Colombo: Defending champions England started their campaign in style as they thrashed Afghanistan by 116 runs in a group league match of the ICC World Twenty20, on Friday.

Eng vs Afghanistan: As it happened»I

Riding on Luke Wright`s superb unbeaten 99, England set a daunting target of 197 for the Afghans who could only manage 80 in 17.2 overs after being precariously placed at 26 for eight at one stage, and in serious danger of recording the lowest total in a T20 international.

Gulbodin Naib who made 44 was the only Afghan batsman to reach double figures and his innings helped them cross the `magic figure` of 67 that was scored by Kenya against Ireland.

The England bowlers had the cushion of defending a big total and their pace trio of Steven Finn, skipper Stuart Broad and Jade Dernbach made life difficult for the inexperienced Afghan batsmen and by the end of first Powerplay, half of the them were back in the dug-out. Unlike their match against India, this one turned out to be a lopsided contest.

Earlier, Wright smashed the Afghan bowlers all around the park during his unbeaten knock of 55-ball-99 that contained eight fours and half a dozen of sixes.

In the process, Wright became England`s highest individual scorer in World T20, surpassing Kevin Pietersen`s 79.

He also got good support from the likes of Alex Hales and Eoin Morgan who chipped in with useful scores of 31 and 27 respectively.

Jos Butler (15) and Jonathan Bairstow (12) hit a few lusty blows to keep the momentum going for the defending champions.

Wright was unlucky to miss out on a three-figure mark as he got only two off the last ball of the innings. Earlier, he quickly reached 94 from 76 with three big hits off Izatullah Dawlatzai.