England fight off early Rahmanullah Gurbaz threat to limit Afghanistan to 284

England were left to chase 285 by Afghanistan after weathering an early storm from Rahmanullah Gurbaz in their World Cup clash in Delhi.

Gurbaz gave the underdogs an explosive start after being sent in by Jos Buttler, dominating a rapid opening stand of 114 and piling on 80 in 57 balls.

But they lost three wickets in 14 balls to throw away much of their good work, Adil Rashid taking the first two before Gurbaz was mindlessly run out by his captain Hashmatullah Shahidi.

He had lit up the lively Arun Jaitley Stadium with his fearless strokeplay, but without his impetus England were able to gain a foothold. They bowled their opponents out for 284 off the penultimate ball of the innings, but there were plenty of question marks over the bowling attack.

Chris Woakes and Sam Curran managed just four wicketless overs apiece, conceding 41 and 46 respectively, but Rashid’s three for 42 – his best figures at a World Cup – took up some of the slack.

England started poorly in the field, with Woakes’ struggles in India continuing as he struggled with the new ball for the third game in a row. The usually reliable seamer began with a set of five wides and was soon clubbed for six over midwicket as Gurbaz set his stall out.

A pair of floaty half-volleys were eased away for four with minimal fuss and he was hauled off after sending down three overs for 31. He was replaced by Curran, but the left-armer fared no better against Gurbaz and angrily pushed a camera away as it came in for a tight shot of his retreat to fine-leg.

Afghanistan took 79 chanceless runs from the powerplay and raced to three figures in the 13th over, Gurbaz sweeping Rashid for four to bring up a 33-ball half-century then upper-cutting Mark Wood for six.

It was threatening to be a calamitous outing when Reece Topley, hitherto England’s best bowler, suffered an injury scare diving in the deep, but he later returned pain-free.

Just as the chances of a major upset were growing, Afghanistan lost their nerve and let England back in.

Ibrahim Zadran, who had been a silent partner with 28 from 48 balls, was first to go when he flicked Rashid straight to Joe Root at short midwicket.

Rashid, having opened the door, grabbed a second by ripping one past Rahmat Shah’s outside edge and handing Buttler enough time for a sharp stumping.

England were not out of the woods until Gurbaz was gone and they could barely believe their luck when Shahidi offered him up gift-wrapped from the very next ball.

He set off for an inexplicable single after inside-edging Rashid to substitute fielder David Willey, leaving the danger man run out by a yard.

The skipper was unable to make up for his error, scratching out 14 in 36 balls before losing his off stump to Root, while Liam Livingstone dashed through 10 straight overs taking one for 33.

Ikram Alikhil’s bright 58 gave Afghanistan a much-needed lift in the latter half of the innings, with Woakes and Curran both taking more punishment in brief second spells as runs and wickets came in quickfire fashion.