Battered England face one final test

England Cricket Crest

Eliminated from the World Cup and with the press a baying mob, the last thing England want to do is play another match before catching the plane home.

Yet that is what they will have to do when they take on Afghanistan tonight from 0330 GMT at the Sydney Cricket Ground. They have nothing to gain: they should win easily. However, they could so easily come unstuck against a side whose improvement over the past decade has been stratospheric. Many England fans are already joking that a win for their side - and not for Afghanistan - would be the upset.

England have never played their opponents in a One-Day International before and coach Peter Moores will wish they didn't have to now. The present situation has echoes of the way in which his predecessor Ashley Giles lost his job. Back in March 2014, England entered a match against Afghanistan's fellow associate member Netherlands having already been eliminated from a tournament - on that occasion the World T20. They lost and Giles was sacked. Moores will hope history does not repeat itself. Current assistant coach Paul Farbrace has already said that a defeat tonight would be "horrendous".

To compound England's woes they have only 13 fit men to pick from after Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes were ruled out with injury. It is also difficult to know whether senior players such as James Anderson will be left out. Anderson, along with the likes of Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Eoin Morgan and Stuart Broad, has already had the obituary written on his ODI career by many in the travelling press contingent. He is England's leading wicket-taker in ODIs but has failed to find swing on a consistent basis during this event. Moeen should be replaced in the eleven by James Tredwell, with Ravi Bopara likely to take over from Chris Woakes.

Possible England XI: Ian Bell, Alex Hales, James Taylor, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (captain), Jos Buttler (wicket-keeper), Ravi Bopara, Chris Jordan, Stuart Broad, James Tredwell, James Anderson.

Afghanistan will rely on their pace attack to make life difficult for England and will lead with Dawlat Zadran, Shapoor Zadran and Hamid Hassan as their main threats. The batting has been a bigger concern, with Shafiqullah a possible inclusion. Alternatively, all-rounder Gulbodin Naib could come in to add another bowling option.

Possible Afghanistan XI: Javed Ahmadi, Usman Ghani, Nawroz Mangal, Asghar Stanikzai, Samiullah Shenwari, Mohammad Nabi (captain), Najibullah Zadran,  Afsar Zazai (wicket-keeper), Dawlat Zadran, Hamid Hassan, Shapoor Zadran.

Conditions:
A delayed start, and subsequent shortened game, is a real possibility as overnight rain could linger into the afternoon. Temperatures will peak at 22 degrees Celsius.