13 March 2015
England signs off with consolation win
Bowlers shine before batsmen overhaul Duckworth-Lewis adjusted target of 101 (25 overs) against Afghanistan with nine wickets to spare
Ian Bell and James Taylor walk off the field after securing a win for England.
That it did it so easily was due to a bit of poor fielding from Afghanistan. Alex Hales was put down third ball of the innings after spooning one to point off Shapoor Zadran – Najibullah Zadran moved to his left and clutched with both hands, but the ball slipped out. When Hales was on 12, there was almost an action replay, with Najibullah missing it again at backward point.
By then, with Hales pulling Dawlat Zadran’s first ball for six, and Ian Bell comfortably lofting over the infield, England had made a fast start. It made 36 from the six Power Play overs, and Dawlat came in for further punishment as Hales pulled and top edged fours in the same over.
Hamid Hassan, who bowled well in excess of 140kph with terrific control, eventually had Hales caught behind for 37 (33 balls), but there were no more alarms as Bell, who made an unbeaten 52, and James Taylor eased home.
There had been early morning rain in Sydney, and it was still very overcast at the toss. Eoin Morgan had little hesitation in sticking Afghanistan in. And in conditions that wouldn’t have been out of place in northern England in May, Afghanistan found batting difficult. Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad got wickets during the Power Play, but it was the change bowlers that excelled, with Chris Jordan especially impressive.
Nawroz Mangal chased a wide delivery from Anderson and the top edge was well held by Joe Root above his head at first slip. Javed Ahmadi, the other opener, followed in similar fashion, this time to a Broad delivery that was perfectly pitched up. When the first rains came, Afghanistan were 24 for 2. That became 25 for 3 when Afzar Zazai edged Jordan behind, and 34 for 4 when Samiullah Shenwari, Afghanistan’s best batsman in the competition, drove uppishly to be brilliantly caught by Morgan diving forward at point.
Nasir Jamal and Shafiqullah Shafiq, drafted in for this game as replacements for Usman Ghani and Asghar Stanikzai, took Afghanistan to 62 for 4 before rain intervened again. The eventual partnership, either side of the delay, was 31 before Ravi Bopara – playing in place of the injured Chris Woakes – induced an edge from Jamal’s bat. Mohammad Nabi, the captain, came in and smashed a six and a four, but a powerful baseball-like swing at Bopara only found James Tredwell at mid-on.
Shafiqullah, who top scored with 30, perished to the slog against Tredwell, and Najibullah’s attempt to counterattack was curtailed by another shower, the heaviest of the evening.
Afghanistan's progress from the ICC World Cricket League’s Division Five to the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup in little over half a decade has been outstanding and the side would hope to learn from the experience in the future.
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