NEW DELHI: A swashbuckling knock by Luke Wright helped England cross the 100-run mark in their World Twenty20 match against Afghanistan at the R Premadasa Stadium.
An unfortunate run out at the non striker’s end claimed the wicket of Hales after the early dismissal for Craig Kieswetter, which seemed to give the defending champions jitters in their start to their World Twenty20 campaign.
Hales and Wright put up a quick fire partnership to hold the English innings steady as they demolished Shapoor Zadran in the fifth over of the match when they smashed 23 runs that included three fours and a six.
Hales, in his innings of 31 runs, hit five boundaries with an impressive strike rate of 114.81. Afghanistan bowler Karim Sadiq got a finger to a powerful Wright hit shot, which tracked backwards and hit the stumps to catch Hales outside.
Earlier, Shapoor gave minnows Afghanistan the best possible start that they could have hoped for when he gave an early breakthrough by scalping Kieswetter for nought.
Kieswetter tried to open the face of the bat to use the pace, but Shapoor got the better of the batsman as the ball flicked off the bails after a bounce off an inside edge.
Afghanistan elected to field against defending champions England after coming into this match heartbroken from their 23-run defeat to India.
On the other hand, England, looking to become the only team in the short history of T20 to have successfully defended the crown, will be on a high after posting wins against Australia and Pakistan, in their two warm-up games.
The Stuart Broad-led side would want its batsman to come good against the Afghans. A win will ensure a Super Eights berth for the champions even before they take on India in their second and final group league match.
A smooth start will certainly help the side hit a good rhythm, and the team management will have an idea about the performance of their preferred combination.
England: Stuart Broad (Capt), Craig Kieswetter (wk), Alex Hales, Luke Wright, Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Samit Patel, Graeme Swann, Steven Finn, Jade Dernbach.
Afghanistan: Nawroz Mangal (Capt), Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Karim Sadiq, Asghar Stanikzai, Mohammad Nabi, Samiullah Shenwari, Shafiqullah, Gulbodin Naib, Izatullah Dawlatzai, Dawlat Zadran, Shapoor Zadran.