England mindful of ‘unpredictable’ Afghanistan in World T20 (Preview)

New Delhi, March 22 (IANS) England aim to safely negotiate a potential banana skin in Afghanistan during their World T20 group phase match here on Wednesday and take a forward step on the road to the semi-finals.

England began their campaign on a wrong note, going down to the West Indies but bounced back superbly with a stupendous run chase against South Africa.

Joe Root’s inspirational batting against South Africa papered the visible cracks in their bowling that went for plenty in both the matches.

Afghanistan could be a tricky opposition, particularly after the impressive batting of Mohammad Shahzad and England would hope to safely negotiate an “unpredictable” opponent, as skipper Eoin Morgan conceded.

“They are a dangerous side. They have played exciting cricket. But we know a lot about them. That is quite comforting. There is no stone left unturned. We have studied them intensely,” Morgan said at the post match press conference on Tuesday.

“Their ultimate objective will be to beat one of the big teams.”

England have the painful experience of slipping against the so called “minnows” in World T20 in 2014 when they where shocked by the Netherlands and Morgan said they are trying to take extra precaution to avoid such a travesty this time.

“Holland was a unique set of circumstances. We were already out of the tournament. We came into the game with a completely wrong mindset. Being knocked out of the tournament is a terrible feeling. Tomorrow it will be about focusing on what we have to do and adjust to the conditions. I think if we do that hopefully we will perform well,” Morgan said.

The left-hander admitted that the unpredictability quotient of Afghanistan is what makes them dangerous.

“Wouldn’t say it’s nervy but probably a little bit of unpredictability. It can be their strong point and certainly we have lacked consistency in recent times,” he pointed out.

Morgan added they were focusing on the Afghans as a whole unit rather than on individuals though Morgan praised opener Shahzad for his aggressive hitting against Sri Lanka and South Africa.

Afghanistan skipper Asghar Stanikzai expressed happiness at their performance so far despite being on the losing side in both their matches. They target at least a win against a Test-playing nation, which would intensify their appeals of getting to play more matches against them.

“Looking forward to the England challenge. Definitely more pressure on England. We are eager to win at least a game against a big team,” Stanikzai said on Tuesday.

Stanikzai hoped his team would benefit from the inputs of former India pacer and their bowling coach Manoj Prabhakar, who has immense knowledge of the Ferozeshah Kotla pitch.

Morgan confessed that he had no idea how the pitch would behave, but backed his team to adjust to the conditions.

“Took a look at the pitch. Not quite sure what it is expected to do. Lots of grass on it. We will look at it tomorrow and then decide on our team combination,” he said.

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