England complete failed Cricket World Cup campaign

Ian Bell hits the winning runs as Afghanistan wicketkeeper Afsar Zazai looks on. Picture: AFP/Getty
Ian Bell hits the winning runs as Afghanistan wicketkeeper Afsar Zazai looks on. Picture: AFP/Getty
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ENGLAND dodged the rain before completing their failed World Cup campaign with a comfortable nine-wicket Duckworth-Lewis method win over Afghanistan in Sydney.

The wet weather left England needing to chase a revised target of 101 in 25 overs, which they did without too much alarm thanks to an Ian Bell half-century.

An economical Chris Jordan had earlier claimed two wickets for 13 runs as Afghanistan crawled to 111 for seven from 36.2 overs before a third rain delay forced the players off for two and a half hours.

At that stage, it appeared the match was destined to be rained off and the points shared, which would have condemned England to their worst World Cup in terms of wins. They were spared the ignominy of that record as play resumed just 22 minutes before the cut-off time and then openers Bell and Alex Hales put on 83 to make short work of the pursuit.

Hales was twice dropped in almost identical fashion by Najibullah Zadran at backward point – the first from just the third ball of the innings – much to the bemusement of left-arm quick Shapoor Zadran.

Hales, batting at the top of the order for the first time in the tournament, launched a couple of big sixes before he edged the headband-wearing Hamid Hassan behind on 37.

Bell remained unbeaten on 52 alongside James Taylor to ensure England won their first one-day meeting with the World Cup debutants with 41 balls to spare.

Afterwards, England captain Eoin Morgan insisted he would leave the tournament with “no regrets” despite England’s failure to qualify out of their group after winning just two of their six games – their other win came against Scotland. “There are no regrets,” Morgan said. “Absolutely not. We’ve given it everything and certainly I have.”

Coach Peter Moores’ position has come under increasing scrutiny after England were blown away by the bigger nations before their tournament was ended by ninth-ranked Bangladesh in Adelaide on Monday.

Morgan nonetheless wants to remain as captain, although he admitted that decision is now out of his hands with the ECB set to rake over the performances. “I think there is going to be a review over the next couple of weeks,” he said. “I can’t determine whether I’ll still be captain. The hunger is still there to do it. I’ve learned a lot throughout this tournament, particularly when things haven’t gone so well. Things like that moving forward are crucial.”

England will fly home next week where the recriminations have already begun and Morgan feels any finger-pointing should be directed at the players rather than the coach. “I certainly think it’s not fair [to blame Moores],” he said. “All the responsibility should fall on the players. It’s our responsibility to perform, particularly when we’ve performed so badly.

“If there were little things where we couldn’t get over the line and games where we competed and little parts of our game weren’t right, you could look elsewhere. It’s important that we realise where the responsibility lies.”