England kick off World T20 defence

Tom Parry-Jones assesses England’s chances as they gear up to defend their ICC World Twenty20 title.

Coming off the back of a mediocre summer against South Africa, the England cricket team began their defence of the ICC World Twenty20 title last week with group matches against Afghanistan and India.

As reigning champions and leaders in the ICC T20I Championship rankings, England were widely expected to qualify for the Super Eight stage of the competition, which is being held in Sri Lanka, and looked in good shape with warm-up wins over Australia and Pakistan.

With Kevin Pietersen in international exile, England will be relying on their youthful opening pair of wicket-keeper Craig Kieswetter and Alex Hales to pile on the runs. Youth is prevalent throughout the side, and captain Stuart Broad (26) will look to spinner Graeme Swann (33) for experience and vital wickets.

Although England sit atop the T20 world rankings, hosts Sri Lanka were widely considered to be the pre-tournament favourites, and they will be hoping that the inventive batting of Tillakaratne Dilshan and iconic bowling of Lasith Malinga will provide the impetus for them to claim their first world title since they hosted the 2002 ICC Champions Trophy.

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