Colombo, Sep 20: Defending champions England will open their ICC World Twenty20 2012 campaign against Afghanistan in Group A at the R Premadasa Stadium here on Friday night.
Watching Afghanistan give a tough fight to India on Wednesday would have put England on alert. Afghanistan have proved that they cannot be taken lightly by the big teams.
If they had taken their catches and bowled less number of wides, Afghanistan would have had a huge chance of upsetting India, the 2007 World T20 champions.
England would have closely followed Afghanistan's progress on that night and will be preparing hard to not have a slip up so early in the tournament.
The team, led by Stuart Broad, have other off-field problems with the absence of Kevin Pietersen. They will surely miss this aggressive batsman in the tournament. But there are other T20 specialists who need to step up if they have to retain the title.
But Broad said England can do well without Pietersen. "Eight of us were involved when we won the World Cup. I think it was June 2 when KP retired from the one-day and Twenty20 formats, so we've had a bit of time to plan without him. The 15 guys who are here are really excited," Broad was quoted as saying in "Daily Mail" newspaper.
Steven Finn, Tim Bresnan and Broad are set to be in charge of pace bowling duties while Graeme Swann will be leading the spin attack. Left-arm spinner Samit Patel will double up as an attacking batting option.
Though England start as favourites in this game, Afghanistan will be hoping for far more improved fielding and are expected to put up a spirited challenge once more.
England: Stuart Broad (captain), Jonathan Bairstow, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Danny Briggs, Jos Buttler, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Craig Kieswetter (wicketkeeper), Michael Lumb, Eoin Morgan, Samit Patel, Graeme Swann, Luke Wright.
Afghanistan: Nawroz Mangal (captain), Dawlat Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Hamid Hassan, Izzatullah Dawlatzai, Karim Sadeq, Mohammad Javed Ahmadi, Mohammad Nasim Baras, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Shehzad, Mohammad Asghar Stanikzai, Najibullah Zadran, Samiullah Shinwari, Shafiqullah Shafaq, Shapur Zadran.
Umpires: Simon Taufel (Australia) and Kumar Dharmasena (Sri Lanka)
Third umpire: Asad Rauf (Pakistan)
Fourth umpire: Aleem Dar (Pakistan)
Match Referee: Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka)
Match starts at 7.30 PM IST. Also playing on Friday (Group D, at 3.30 PM IST) Bangladesh Vs New Zealand
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