A disastrous display from the top order began when Jason Roy was bowled by Amir Hamza for just five and, by the time Joe Root (12) was run out, England were 42 for four.
Some excellent Afghanistan fielding, and the bowling of 17-year-old leg spinner Rashid Khan (two for 17), restricted England further to leave them toiling at 85 for seven on a green wicket at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium.
An eighth-wicket partnership of 57 from Moeen Ali (41no) and David Willey (20no) revived some life in the innings to set a target of 143, and a solid bowling performance saw England through.
Morgan, though, was left disappointed with the way he and his team-mates failed to live with the tough batting conditions and urged England to respond in their next clash against Sri Lanka, at the same venue, on Saturday. Morgan, who was bowled for a duck, said: “Playing against a dangerous side like Afghanistan can be a banana skin, they play a great brand of cricket and certainly [when you are] underperforming you can become unstuck.
“We didn’t really adapt to the surface with our batting performance, we spoke about it before and how we would have to, but putting that into action we didn’t quite get that right. We’ll speak about that in the upcoming days. David Willey and Moeen Ali played very well, put a bit of a score on the board which allowed us to build pressure if we took wickets early.”
When asked what was going through his mind when he stepped up to the crease, Moeen said: “We wanted to take it to the last three overs and try and have a bit of a hack at the end but it was tough, they bowled really well. Today was about getting the job done against a good side and it was a tough game.”
There were two wickets apiece for Willey and Adil Rashid but Afghanistan still reached the last over needing 24 to win. Ben Stokes took the ball and conceded just eight as the scoreboard stopped on 127 for nine.
“I thought we fielded well and bowled well,” added Morgan. “In the first six overs we were outstanding, David Willey and Chris Jordan and they were followed up by Liam Plunkett.”
Afghan captain Asghar Stanikzai said: “It was a good opportunity for us that we missed.”
Later, India pulled off an astounding one-run victory over Bangladesh in a manic finish to the ICC World Twenty20 Group 2 Super 10 match in Bangalore.
The qualifiers seemed sure to score their first ever victory over India in this format, when they needed just two runs from the final three balls of the match with four wickets left. But Hardik Pandya took two wickets in two balls, Mushfiqur Rahim and then Mahmudullah holing out in the leg-side deep, before Mahendra Singh Dhoni ran out Mustafizur Rahman as he tried to scamper a bye to level the scores on 146 and force a Super Over. Dhoni just won the race to dislodge the stumps as India won their second successive match to move up to second in the table behind New Zealand – who have already qualified for the semi-finals.