Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Holders Eng hope to set tone against Scotland; Afghans favourites vs Uganda


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Bridgetown, June 3: Deprived of ideal preparation by rain, defending champions England will hope to get their act right straightaway when they face Scotland in their T20 World Cup opener here on Tuesday.
Phil Salt will look to continue his red-hot form of the Indian Premier League in the T20 showpiece, even as pacer Jofra Archer’s return adds firepower to the English bowling attack.
Rain played spoilsport in the preceding four-match T20I series at home against Pakistan, but England will still enter the tournament as one of the strong contenders to lift the title for an unprecedented third time.
In what will be their first ever meeting against the Scots in the shortest format, the Jos Buttler-led England will be the overwhelming favourites to emerge winners at the Kensington Oval, which offered a two-paced wicket for the game between Namibia and Oman on Sunday evening.
Placed in Group B, England have traditional rivals Australia, Namibia and Oman for company besides Scotland.
To reach the Super Eight stage, teams will have to finish in the top two of a group.
In white-ball cricket, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for England since their five-wicket-victory over Pakistan in the final of the last T20 World Cup in Melbourne in 2022.
A year after their success in Australia, Buttler’s men endured a disastrous campaign at the ODI World Cup in India, finishing seventh after winning three and losing six of their nine matches including a painful defeat to Afghanistan.
Their poor run in the white-ball game continued with a series of defeats to West Indies in both the 50-over and 20-over format.
In the rain-marred rubber against Pakistan recently, England regained some of their lost ground with a 2-0 series win.
Now focussed on their opener against Scotland, England have fond memories of playing at the Kensington Oval as it is at this very venue the team won its first-ever T20 World Cup title back in 2010 under Paul Collingwood’s captaincy, beating Australia by seven wickets in the summit showdown.
In the last 14 years since that triumph, England have become a dominant force in limited overs cricket, winning the 2019 ODI World Cup before their glory Down Under two years ago.
Playing in their third consecutive T20 World Cup, Scotland are no match to their fancied opponents on paper but they will nonetheless look to make an impression after having breezed through the European qualifiers.
Scotland won all six of their matches in the qualifiers to finish top of the standings, which guaranteed them a ticket to the West Indies and the USA for the marquee tournament.
Afghanistan eye winning start
In the day’s other match, Afghanistan will be the overwhelming favourites against Uganda at the Providence in Guyana. The Africans are making their maiden appearance in the tournament.
Afghanistan did extremely well in the last ICC tournament, beating the likes of England, South Africa and Pakistan in the ODI World Cup in India last year, and they will certainly take heart from that showing in this tournament. (PTI)


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