Eoin Morgan: Moeen Ali-David Willey partnership crucial

The 15-run victory margin suggests that the England-Afghanistan match was a close contest. But in reality, England managed to keep the young cricketing nation at bay and won with a fair amount of comfort.

The England captain was pleased with the team’s victory, pleased with the side ability to bat deep and never doubted the outcome could be any different.   -  AP

The 15-run victory margin suggests that the England-Afghanistan match was a close contest. But in reality, England managed to keep the young cricketing nation at bay and won with a fair amount of comfort.

England captain Eoin Morgan was pleased with the team’s victory, pleased with the side ability to bat deep and never doubted the outcome could be any different. “The Moeen Ali-David Willey partnership was very important. The difference of chasing 120 and 140 is huge. One of our strengths is we bat right down the order. I thought he (Moeen) batted really well. With Afghanistan playing four spinners and only one seamer, they would run the risk of having to bowl the last few overs with the off-spinner. So it was a risk that you do take.”

Morgan maintained that at no stage he had any fear of England losing. “Before the game, we knew a lot about Afghanistan. They are a good side and certainly if they are going to beat us, we need to under-perform. We let them in today by under-performing with the bat but I thought our bowling was outstanding. In the field as well, we are pretty good, which is a good sign.”

Praising Afghanistan’s cricket, Morgan said, “They certainly didn’t surprise with anything that they have done before. They continue to play in the right way to try and improve their cricket. I said before they are probably the best associate nation at the moment. And I think that’s a huge honour. If they continue playing in that fashion, they would improve their cricket a lot more quickly.”

On this day, the Afghanistan camp felt Moeen Ali’s innings made the difference. In the words of leg-spinner Rashid Khan, “When England lost seven wickets for 57, we thought it was time for us to beat them as they were beaten by the other side (the Netherlands and Ireland). But in the end, Moeen Ali played a good innings. He took his team to 140 and that took away the game from us.”

Looking at the positives from the contest, Rashid said, “It was a good game. We were just going to play good cricket. In the start, the spinners did a good job. They took all the wickets so it helped us restrict England to 142.

On the role of Afghanistan spinners, he said, “We know these wickets are suitable for spinners. They did their job taking wickets early. So we planned to restrict them to 60 or 70. We thought we had this game 100 per cent, you know. This time, it was a closer game. So hopefully we learn from it and in the future, we will not repeat the same mistakes.”