England thrashed Afghanistan by nine wickets in their final warm-up match at the Oval on Monday ahead of the upcoming Cricket World Cup. Chasing a below-par score of 161, England got off to a quickfire start as their openers Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow hammered Afghanistan for regular boundaries and these two batsmen enabled England to score 76 runs in opening seven overs. Mohammad Nabi provided the first breakthrough to Afghanistan as Bairstow (39) was stumped in the eighth over. Joe Root came out to bat at number three, and along with Roy, did not allow Afghanistan to come back in the match. Both these batsmen carried the momentum forward for England.
The duo ensured that the team does not suffer from any more hiccups and they took England over the line by nine wickets with 195 balls to spare in the 18th over. Roy and Root remained unbeaten on 89 and 29, respectively. Earlier, a spirited bowling performance helped England bundle out Afghanistan for just 160 runs. Afghanistan got off to a bad start as they lost both Hazratullah Zazai (11) and Rahmat Shah (3) in quick succession reducing the team to 25 for two. Noor Ali Zadran and Hashmatullah Shahidi stitched together a brief stand of 24 runs but their resistance was cut short by Jofra Archer as he dismissed Zadran (30) in the 12th over.
Former skipper Asghar Afghan (10) fell in the 17th over and after his departure, England took a flurry of wickets, not allowing Afghanistan to have any kind of momentum in the innings and at one stage the team was reduced to 92 for eight. Towards the end, Nabi and Aftab Alam stitched together a partnership of 35 runs, allowing Afghanistan to go past the 120-run mark. Aftab Alam (6) was finally dismissed by Joe Root in the 33rd over.
Number eleven, Dawlat Zadran played some big shots and he, along with Nabi, put up a 33-run stand to take Afghanistan past the 150-run mark. Afghanistan was finally bundled out in the 39th over. Nabi was the top scorer for the team with a knock of 44 runs whereas Root and Archer scalped three wickets each for England. England had lost their opening warm-up match against Australia on Saturday by 12 runs whereas Afghanistan defeated Pakistan in their opening warm-up match by three wickets. England will now play their first match of the World Cup on May 30 against South Africa whereas Afghanistan will take on Australia in their opening fixture of the tournament on June 1.
Brief Scores: England 161/1 (JJ Roy 89*, JM Bairstow 39, Mohammad Nabi 1-39) defeat Afghanistan 160 all out (Mohammad Nabi 44, Noor Ali Zadran 30, JE Root 3-22) by nine wickets.