England ended their dismal World Cup campaign with a low-profile nine-wicket victory against Afghanistan in the rain-sodden Sydney #Cricket Ground.
The match was affected by the poor weather conditions; the Three Lions have won the toss and elected to bowl first. England’s seamers managed to get through Afghanistan’s top order batsmen quickly, under the cloud cover. James Anderson and Stuart Broad had catches held at first slip from the openers Nawroz Mangal and Javed Ahmadi, before Chris Jordan enticed Afsar Zazai to edge to Jos Buttler and Samiullah Shenwari cut a shot to point.
Afghanistan were in trouble with the score 34-4 from 16 overs, but the middle order steadied the ship without scoring big and threatening England’s attack. Shafiquallah was the new man in and he applied himself to score 30 runs. He partnered Nasir Jamal Ahmadzai and Mohammad Nabi, who also gave their best to reach 60, before being caught behind by the wicket-keeper. Afghanistan reached 111-7 from 36.2 overs, before the weather worsened and put a stop on their innings.
The weather meant that England’s total to chase was only 101 from 25 overs, which was an achievable target. Ian Bell’s solid half-century knock of 52 unbeaten meant that England finished the match with 41 ball to spare. It was ironic that in this match the Lions produced some of the qualities that they were missing in their previous matches.
With this win, England finished in fifth place in Pool A, having only beaten Scotland and Afghanistan in their six group matches at the World Cup. Their two wins meant that they matched their joint-worst performance at a World Cup, the total of two wins was the same as the 1996 World Cup - where they at least reached the quarter-finals. England will need to rethink and review the game going forward.
Afghanistan finished one place and one win behind England in Pool A, in their first World Cup in history. They have learnt from experience and have improved as cricketers; the Afghani fans were obviously pleased and cheered their team all the way.