Hosts England climbed to the top of the 2019 ICC World Cup standings with a record-breaking 150-run win over Afghanistan at Manchester.
Led by a blistering 148 off just 71 balls from skipper Eoin Morgan, the tournament favourites racked up a mammoth 397-6 in their 50 overs before they restricted the Afghans to 247-8.
Batting first, England racked up their highest-ever World Cup total of 397-6 with Morgan’s explosive ton backed up by excellent half-centuries from Joe Root (88) and Jonny Bairstow (90).
With Jason Roy injured, James Vince opened the innings alongside Bairstow and the pair added 44 runs before he was dismissed by Dawlat Zadran. That was as good as it got for Afghanistan with Bairstow and Root then putting on a 120-run stand. Bairstow was in fluent form and looked set for a century before his 90-run knock was ended by Gulbadin Naib.
That dismissal brought Morgan to the crease and the southpaw went on an incredible assault as Root took a backseat. Morgan dealt primarily in sixes and struck a record 17 of them in a 71-ball stay that yielded a staggering 148 runs.
His ton came off just 57 balls and seven of his 17 sixes came against Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan who had a day to forget. The Afghan star was taken for 110 runs from just nine overs in what are now the most expensive bowling figures in World Cup history.
Morgan’s blitz saw England collect as many as 142 runs from the final 10 overs at Manchester with Root chipping in with a solid 88. Moeen Ali rubbed salt into the wounds of Afghanistan’s bowlers with an unbeaten cameo of 31 runs which came off just nine deliveries.
In response, Afghanistan were never really in the game as they chased down the mammoth target with opener Noor Ali Zadran being bowled for a duck by Jofra Archer. They did manage to bat out their quota of 50 overs for the first time in the tournament led by a gritty 76 from Hashmatullah Shahidi and valuable contributions from Rahmat Shah (46) and Asghar Afghan (44).
Afghans show some character with the bat
Afghanistan had been abysmal at the crease in their previous four losses in the tournament but they finally showed some application in that department against England. The chase was always going to be beyond Afghanistan’s means before it even started and they adopted the right approach by treating it as an opportunity to play a full innings.
The pitch was a belter for batting but Afghanistan’s batsmen need to be given credit for holding their own against the likes of Archer, Mark Wood and Chris Woakes. For once, their middle order did not collapse like a house of cards with Shahidi, Asghar Afghan and Rahmat in particular showing tremendous grit and application at the crease.
Shahidi was the best of the lot with a 76-run knock that helped the minnows register their highest total in the 2019 World Cup so far. The time spent by Afghanistan’s batsmen in the middle against a formidable England attack should hold them in good stead for their remaining four games.
There were several England batsmen who enjoyed themselves in the middle but none more so than skipper Eoin Morgan. The left-hander had passed a late fitness test for the match after suffering from a stiff back but he hardly showed any signs of discomfort as he dispatched the ball to all parts of the ground.
He was on the attack from the very first ball and gave Afghanistan’s bowlers no respite in an astonishing assault that saw him slam a record 17 sixes. He was particularly in punishing mood against Afghanistan’s star bowler Rashid Khan who he struck for as many as seven sixes.
In just a 17-over stay at the crease, Morgan helped England more than double their total from 164 to 359 before his 148-run blitz was brought to an end by Gulbadin Naib. It was the most effortless hitting from the England skipper and it was the reason his side posted a total of nearly 400.
His ton was the fastest by an Englishman in World Cups and fourth quickest overall in the competition’s history.
Morgan and England break sixes record
The 25 sixes struck by England’s batsmen on Monday is now the most registered in a single innings by any side in ODI history. The previous best had been 24 sixes.
The 17 sixes slammed by Morgan is also the highest by any batsman in an ODI innings and breaks the previous record of 16 held jointly by Rohit Sharma, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers.
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