World T20: Shahzad and Root to star in England-Afghanistan clash

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In three first-round World T20 matches and the two Super 10 fixtures that followed, Afghanistan have played some superb cricket.

The momentum gained from an unbeaten record against their fellow Associates and Zimbabwe may have subsided slightly with near-misses against the elite Test-playing nations, but their performances in defeat haven’t dented the confidence that they’ll cause an upset before they leave India.

The way England have been performing so far in the competition, Eoin Morgan’s men are prime candidates to cop the first Afghani hiding.

A swashbuckling and brave pursuit of South Africa’s 209/5 in their last outing was a snapshot of what the tournament’s favourite underdogs can achieve, with their method collecting more fans by the match.

In wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad, the side possesses a pacesetter at the top of the order different only to England’s Jason Roy in his rotund appearance.

Shahzad blazed 44 off just 19 balls against the Proteas and, faced with a wayward and misfiring England attack, can once again score heavily.

Ladbrokes have boosted his price to be Afghanistan’s top runscorer to 10/3 from 11/4. They’ve also stretched his odds on scoring a 50 to 9/2. Either price is worth investing in considering he’s fallen in the 40s three times already this tournament.

There’s little value in backing England to win at 1/8. After all they have a history of slipping on banana skins in this tournament, having twice suffered defeat at the hands of the Netherlands.

If they are to stride to an expected victory though, Joe Root is likely to play a key role. It was his exploits that the recent world-record chase against South Africa hung on and a boosted price of 10/3 on the Yorkshireman being the Three Lions’ top scorer in an England win looks to the play to make.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.