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English taking nothing for granted, says Morgan

By Rory Dollard

Eoin Morgan insists England have done their homework on an Afghanistan side striving both for recognition and a major scalp at the World Twenty20.

The two teams might have met just twice before, most recently at last year's World Cup, but the days of unknown quantities are disappearing rapidly.

Afghanistan can feel aggrieved at their lack of fixtures against Test-playing nations and the shrinking opportunities at future global events but they can take a measure of comfort that nobody utters the word 'minnow' in their direction anymore.

Morgan, who started his career on the other side of the associate debate with his native Ireland, rejected suggestions that England would view today's clash in Delhi as a chance to bolster their net run-rate and will instead focus on the win they need to stay in semi-final contention.

"Our priority is on winning, this is a big game and we are certainly not taking Afghanistan for granted," he said.

"We need to go into that game with the right mindset. Focusing on anything else at the moment, given that there are two group games left, would be a little bit naive - actually stupid."

The Afghanistan Cricket Board was only established in 1995, but the national side arrived in India sitting ninth in the ICC's T20 rankings, ahead of full members Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

Having qualified for the Super 10s, they lost to Sri Lanka and South Africa but competed well enough to suggest they are ready to deliver a bloody nose.

And Morgan's men must make sure they are not on the receiving end.

"They're a dangerous side and play a really exciting brand of cricket," he said. "Ten years ago we might not have known much about them, but now that is the nature of modern sport. We know a lot about them now and that is quite comforting.

"We watched the early stages of the tournament and they played some really good cricket.

"Winning one of these games will be their ultimate objective.

"If you keep missing, it's fine, but the opportunity along the way will come. If you have your day, you might win a game. That certainly was the attitude when I was a part of Ireland."

Afghanistan want more than kind words, though. They want the ICC to drop plans to restrict the 2019 tournament to just 10 teams, a plan that threatens to stifle associate growth, and for major nations to schedule more regular fixtures with them.

Morgan added: "Associate nations are key in evolving our sport and giving them as much opportunities as we can.

"I can see a time when we do play tri-series against different sides and not necessarily with our strongest side, but with as good a side as we can and giving some guys a bit of a break."

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