All-rounder Sam Curran's sensational five-for led England to a convincing five-wicket win over Afghanistan in a Super 12 match of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022 at Perth Stadium, here on Saturday.
Curran employed the short ball, alongside the occasional full delivery to great effect to remove Ibrahim Zadran, Usman Ghani, Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, and Fazalhaq Farooqi and become the first cricketer from England to take a five-for in T20Is.
His historical performance helped England bowl out the Mohammed Nabi-led Afghanistan for a meagre total of 112 in 19.4 overs. Ibrahim (32) and Ghani (30), who played with a degree of confidence in tricky conditions, were the top scorers for Afghanistan.
In reply, England chased down the target with five wickets and 11 deliveries to spare. Liam Livingstone top-scored for his side with an unbeaten 29-ball 21, while Jos Buttler, Davin Malan and Alex Hales made scores of 18, 18 and 19 respectively.
After winning the toss and opting to bowl first, England bowlers kept the Afghanistan batters under pressure right from the beginning of the match. They restricted the Afghans to less than six runs per over in the Power-play and took the sole wicket of Rahmanullah Gurbaz courtesy of Mark Wood.
There was still some hope for Mohammad Nabi's men as they had wickets in hand but England's top-class fielding made it difficult for Afghanistan.
In the 7th over, Zazai slashed one off Ben Stokes towards deep cover where Livingstone flung himself to grab an excellent catch. In the 12th over, Moeen Ali ran back from backward point to complete a fine effort to send Ibrahim back to the pavilion while Adil Rashid charged from mid-on to pouch another impressive catch, with Najibullah Zadran being the batter dismissed. Buttler then dived full stretch to pluck another blinder, with Mohammad Nabi being the batter dislodged.
As far as Curran's bowling spell is concerned, the pacer claimed the wicket of a well-set Ibrahim Zadran in the middle overs and then came back at the death to pick up four wickets and complete his five-for. He registered figures of 3.4-0-10-5 in the end.
Chasing a small target, England got off to a steady start with Alex Hales and Jos Buttler putting on an opening stand of 35 runs. But they suffered a brief scare in the middle as they went on to lose four wickets in the space of just 46 runs.
Afghanistan could also sense that they were back in the game. But Livingstone stepped up and seemed to find a bit of fluency in his batting as he drove, cut and glanced at Afghanistan's bowlers to pick up a few boundaries, scoring an unbeaten 29 from 21 deliveries to guide England home.
For Afghanistan, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Rashid, Fareed Malik and Nabi shared the spoils while Rashid was the most economical bowler on show, finishing with 1 for 17 from four overs.
This win also gave England a significant boost in their NRR, which stands at +0.620 right now. Afghanistan fought well with the ball but this loss has left them with an NRR of -0.620 and they will need to work really hard to improve it.
Afghanistan 112 (Ibrahim Zadran 32; Sam Curran 5-10) lost to England 113/5 in 18.1 overs (Livingstone 29 not out; Rashid Khan 1-17) by five wickets