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T20 World Cup: England v Afghanistan preview

As the dust settles on the group stage at this year's Twenty20 World Cup in Australia, attention turns to the beginning of the Super 12 phase on Saturday and England are among the first of the big guns to feature.

On Saturday, England begin their T20 World Cup campaign against Afghanistan at the Optus Stadium in Perth, eager to make a winning start with New Zealand and hosts Australia also in their section.

It has been a tumultuous year for Jos Buttler's white-ball side but recent preparations for the tournament have gone well and England will be looking to better last year's run to the tournament's semi-finals in the United Arab Emirates and Oman. 

As for Afghanistan, they finished fourth in their section in the Super 12 stage last year and know they could once again be up against it.

What:England vs Afghanistan, T20 World Cup
Where:Optus Stadium, Perth, Australia
When: 12.00pm, Saturday 22nd October 2022
How to watch:Sky Sports Main Event / Cricket
Odds:England 1/7, Afghanistan 9/2

Recent series' bring England camp renewed belief

England failed to win a single series of white-ball cricket at home this summer and at the start of September the situation looked bleak with the T20 World Cup on the horizon. 

Since then, though, England have found their mojo, edging a high-octane series away to Pakistan 4-3 before winning both of their completed T20s against tournament hosts Australia down under at the start of the month. 

And England maintained the high spirits in the camp with another win over Pakistan - this time a six-wicket success in a warm-up contest at the Gabba - on Monday. 

Everything is coming together at the right time for Buttler and his side look about right at 1/7 to win this opening match. 

England were superb in the Super 12 phase of last year's T20 World Cup, winning four of their five matches, including an eight-wicket drubbing of Australia, and they are 13/8 to make the final of this year's tournament. 

Topley absence could open the door for Curran

England have had to handle a couple of key injuries in the build-up to this World Cup with pace bowler Jofra Archer a long-term absentee and Jonny Bairstow having recently sustained a freak leg injury. 

And only three days before the clash with Afghanistan, they received more bad news when it was confirmed bowler Reece Topley will miss the tournament with an ankle injury. 

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Tymal Mills has consequently been called up in the place of Topley, who will be bitterly disappointed to miss out after a summer which saw him take his best figures for England in both T20 (3-22) and one-day international cricket (6-24) when they faced India. 

For England, it means they have one less option with the new ball and during the death overs now and one player who may need to step up in Topley's absence is all-rounder Sam Curran. 

England have had issues bowling at the death before and with Topley out, Curran's strength in that area will become all the more important. 

In the team's first of three T20s against Australia earlier this month in Perth, Curran defended 16 in the final over and picked up two wickets. In the second match of the series, he finished with figures of 3-25, again performing well at the death when defending 22 in the final over. 

With that in mind, Curran could be worth backing at 5/1 to be England's top bowler, having taken 10 wickets in his last five matches, or punters may wish to back him to score over 22.5 performance points at 5/6. 

In that market, players earn one point per run scored, 20 per wicket taken and 10 per catch. 

Nabi's experience will be key for Afghanistan

Experience is key in major tournaments like the T20 World Cup and one player Afghanistan will be looking to for guidance in the next month or so is 37-year-old Mohammad Nabi. 

Nabi was his nation's second-highest runscorer at last year's T20 World Cup, blasting 127 runs in five innings and his preparations for this year's tournament have gone well. 

The veteran all-rounder managed to score 41 off 17 deliveries in the warm-up against Bangladesh on Monday before scoring 51 off 37 balls in Wednesday's abandoned contest with Pakistan. 

He is shaping up well at the right time and could be worth chancing at 9/2 to be his side's top runscorer against England in Perth.

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