COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP):Luke Wright hammered an unbeaten 99 to steer defending champions England to a crushing 116-run win over Afghanistan in their ICC Twenty20 Cricket World Cup match yesterday.
England made a formidable 196 for five in its 20 overs after being sent in to bat, and then bowled out Afghanistan for 80 in the 18th over at R. Premadasa Stadium. Wright and Alex Hales joined in a 69-run stand, and Wright shared 72 runs with Eoin Morgan.
The game ended Afghanistan's short campaign in the tournament after losing to India by 23 runs in its first Group A match on Wednesday.
Wright said that England knew Afghans were a dangerous team after watching their spirited effort against India on television. But he added: "The way we came back and bowled them out was a superb effort."
Wright played down his disappointment at missing out on England's first Twenty20 century by a single run.
"I was just tired by the end, I was just happy to keep the ball going," he said. "The most important thing was that we got a big total. I think the scoreboard pressure really had big importance going into bowling."
The Afghans were eight down for 26 at one stage and facing the prospect of being bowled out for the lowest Twenty20 international score - worse than Kenya's 67 against Ireland in 2008. However, they avoided that prospect thanks to late resistance from Gulbodin Naib, who made 44.
Seam bowler Steven Finn picked up the first wicket for England with Afghanistan's total on two and the rest followed on a regular basis, thwarting any chance of a recovery.
Left-arm spinner Samit Patel returned the best figures for England with 2-6 with three other bowlers, captain Stuart Broad, Jade Dernbach and Graeme Swann, also picking up two wickets each.
Naib hit three sixes and five boundaries in his 35-ball innings as the other batsmen failed to reach double figures.
England made a nervous start to their batting, with Afghan seam bowler Shapoor Zadran opening with a fierce wicket maiden in which he bowled Craig Kieswetter.
Shapoor and his new ball partner Dawlat Zadran scared the English batsmen, often beating them with good pace and accuracy, and the pressure almost had Hales run out in the second over.
But Afghan cricketers again showed they were talented but lacked the experience to challenge leading teams in the world, losing their way after a good start.