Luke Wright’s unbeaten 99 in 55 balls helped holders England crush Afghanistan by 116 runs in their Group A opener at the Twenty20 World Cup on Friday.
England’s victory means they will advance to the Super Eight stage along with group rivals India because both have defeated rank outsiders Afghanistan.
The defending champions amassed 196 for five after being put in to bat, Wright recording his highest Twenty20 score for his country after smashing six sixes and eight fours.
Left-arm paceman Shapoor Zadran bowled opener Craig Kieswetter for a duck but Wright, going in at number three, then shared a stand of 69 for the second wicket with Alex Hales (31).
The Sussex all-rounder also put on 72 for the third wicket with Eoin Morgan (27) as England collected 122 runs in the second half of their innings.
Wright narrowly missed out on his century when he could only manage two runs off the final ball.
“It is always a disappointment not to finish with a hundred,” he told reporters. “I was just tired at the end and I was happy to keep the scoreboard going.
“The most important thing was a big total. I think the scoreboard pressure was important for our bowlers.”
Afghanistan, in reply, were bowled out for 80 in 17.2 overs with only Gulbodin Naib (44) reaching double figures.
The Afghanis slumped to 26 for eight after nine overs but Naib gave their total a respectable look.
Samit Patel, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann and Jade Dernbach all picked up two wickets for England.
Afghanistan, participating in their second successive Twenty20 World Cup, are now out of the tournament.
“We are very disappointed. The expectations were pretty high back home, everyone was following these games closely,” Zadran said.
“Today was a tough day for us. We have learnt a lot and hopefully we can come up with some good results in the future.”