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England restore a little pride beating Afghanistan at CWC


AP

England restore a little pride beating Afghanistan at CWC

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SYDNEY (AP) — England recovered a little bit of pride from a pitiful Cricket World Cup campaign by beating Afghanistan by nine wickets in a rain-affected Pool A match on Friday.

After the rain cut Afghanistan short at 111-7 in the 37th over at Sydney Cricket Ground, England got in just in time to rapidly reach a revised target of 101. Given 25 overs, England did it in 18.1 overs.

England were eliminated from quarterfinals contention on Monday in a 15-run loss to Bangladesh, and finished with a 2-4 win-loss pool record.

Afghanistan, making their World Cup debut, finished 1-5.

“Things that have let us down throughout this World Cup have been very basic stuff,” England skipper Eoin Morgan said. “It’s put a huge microscope on the fact that when we’ve performed well we’ve done reasonably well, and when we’ve been poor, we’ve been really poor.

“All the responsibility should fall on the players. It’s our responsibility to perform as a side.”

Ian Bell scored a composed 52 not out, and combined for an opening 83-run stand with Alex Hales, who nicked Hamid Hassan (1-17) in the 14th over for 37, including two sixes. James Taylor (8 not out) finished off the chase with Bell.

Afghanistan will rue some poor fielding, which saw Hales dropped twice at backward point by Najib Zadran off Shapoor Zadran, blowing a chance to exploit a nervy England start.

“We would have liked to have done a bit better in some of the games but that’s something we’ll work on,” Afghanistan coach Andy Moles said. “The Afghan players are a very proud bunch of young men that want to do well, not for themselves, but for reunification, and the message it sends around the world about Afghanistan.”

Afghanistan also didn’t start the match well, losing both openers inside eight overs, after being sent in by England. Joe Root caught out both at first slip.

A shower gave Afghanistan respite for 40 minutes, but another wicket quickly fell.

New batsman Samiullah Shenwari (7) hit Afghanistan’s first boundary in the 13th over, but he became Chris Jordan’s second wicket, spooning a catch to Morgan at point. It was Shenwari’s lowest score of the tournament, following impressive half-centuries against Scotland and New Zealand, and scoring more than 250 runs in total.

Afghanistan reached 50 in the 21st over before rain forced another delay.

England again struck in the first over after the resumption, with Ravi Bopara teasing Nasir Jamal (17) into an edge to Jos Buttler. Bopara took 2-31.

Captain Mohammad Nabi wasted little time getting set, smashing a six off spinner James Tredwell into a group of Afghani supporters in a sparse crowd of 9,000 at the SCG. Bopara ended Nabi’s cameo on 16, caught at mid-on, to reduce Afghanistan to 93-6.

Shafuqullah Shafaq top-scored for Afghanistan with 30.

“It was a good toss to win,” Moles said. “The conditions were very, very helpful for whoever was going to bowl first.

“We lost a little bit of composure and had too many soft dismissals. But our guys will leave this tournament with a lot of good memories and learning.”

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