SYDNEY - England's miserable World Cup ended with a comfortable nine-wicket win over Afghanistan in a rain-marred Pool A clash at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday. Chasing a revised target of 101 to win in 25 overs under the Duckworth/Lewis method following three rain delays, England finished on 101 for one in 18.1 overs
Ian Bell was 52 not out, off 56 balls, after putting on 83 for the first wicket with Alex Hales, who made 37 after being dropped on nought and 12. Afghanistan, after losing the toss, earlier made 111 for seven in 36.2 overs before their innings was ruled to be closed because of rain. Both sides came into this first one-day international between England and Afghanistan unable to qualify for the quarter-finals and having just one previous Pool A win apiece after they each beat Scotland.
This was the first edition of the World Cup in the tournament's 40-year history where England had failed both to beat a Test nation and get through to the second round. In 1996, England defeated two non-Test sides in the UAE and the Netherlands before losing to Sri Lanka in the quarter-finals.
Hopes they might finish with a win over World Cup debutants Afghanistan, after their last-eight ambitions crumbled in Monday's 15-run defeat by Bangladesh in Adelaide, were high as the non-Test side collapsed after losing the toss. No Afghanistan batsman made more than the recalled Shafiqullah Shafiq's 30. First change Chris Jordan led England's attack with two for 13 in 6.2 overs while all-rounder Ravi Bopara, playing his first match of the tournament after an injury to Chris Woakes, took two for 31 in eight overs. After England captain Eoin Morgan won the toss, Afghanistan found runs hard to come by in overcast conditions.
Openers Nawroz Mangal (four) and Javed Ahmadi (seven) both fell cheaply to slip catches by Joe Root off the bowling of James Anderson and Stuart Broad respectively. Shortly after an initial rain delay, Afsar Zazai was caught behind off Jordan for six. His exit brought in Samiullah Shenwari, who had previously made several fifties at this tournament with a best of 96 in Afghanistan's one-wicket win over Scotland.
However, Shenwari could only manage seven before his thick edge off Jordan was caught by Morgan, diving forward at backward point. The fifth-wicket duo of Nasir Jamal (17) and Shafiq -- the first two batsmen in the innings to make double-figure score -- took Afghanistan to 62 for four of 25 overs before rain stopped play again. Afterwards, Afghanistan captain Mohammad Nabi lofted off-spinner James Tredwell -- like Bopara making his tournament debut, following an injury to Moeen Ali, for six.
But his near run-a-ball 16 ended when he pulled Bopara straight to Tredwell at mid-on. With England yet to score, Hales should have been out for a third-ball duck when he edged Shapoor Zadran, only for Najibullah Zadran at backward point to drop the chance despite getting both hands to the ball. Hales, on 12, then gave a near-identical chance off left-arm quick Shapoor only for Najibullah to again drop the two-handed catch in the same position.
After that second reprieve, the only question was whether England would enjoy a 10-wicket win. That didn't happen, with Hales finally caught behind off paceman Hamid Hassan, having faced 33 balls including three fours and two sixes.
Nawroz Mangal c Root b Anderson 4
Javed Ahmadi c Root b Broad 7
Afsar Zazai c Buttler b Jordan 6
Nasir Jamal c Buttler b Bopara 17
Samiullah Shenwari c Morgan b Jordan 7
Shafiqullah Shafiq c Bopara b Tredwell 30
M Nabi c Tredwell b Bopara 16
Najibullah Zadran not out 12
Hamid Hassan not out 0
EXTRAS: (lb6, w6) 12
TOTAL: (7 wkts, 36.2 overs) 111
FOW: 1-17, 2-20, 3-25, 4-34, 5-65, 6-93, 7-101
BOWLING: Anderson 7-0-18-1; Broad 8-1-18-1; Jordan 6.2-2-13-2; Bopara 8-1-31-2; Tredwell 7-0-25-1
A Hales c Zazai b Hassan 37
I Bell not out 52
J Taylor not out 8
EXTRAS: (lb3, w1) 4
TOTAL: (1 wkt, 18.1 overs) 101
BOWLING: Shapoor 4-0-25-0; Dawlat 3-0-23-0; Hassan 5-0-17-1; Nabi 4.1-0-14-0; Shenwari 2-0-19-0
UMPIRES: Billy Bowden (NZL), S Ravi (IND)
TV UMPIRE: Marais Erasmus (RSA)
MATCH REFEREE: David Boon (AUS)