High on captain Morgan, England demolishes Afghanistan

England captain Eoin Morgan played an incredible knock of 148 in just 71 balls, hammering 17 sixes, against Afghanistan in Manchester on Tuesday.

England captain Eoin Morgan in action against Afghanistan in Manchester on Tuesday.   -  REUTERS


It rained sixes at the Old Trafford on a bright and sunny Tuesday, as England captain Eoin Morgan played an incredible knock of 148 in just 71 balls, hammering 17 sixes — the maximum by any player in ODI cricket. England stopped three-runs short of the 400-run mark in its World Cup fixture against Afghanistan, and eventually defeated the opponent by 150 runs.

Morgan suffered a back spasm during the West Indies game in Southampton and addressed the post-match media conference while standing and many expected him to miss England’s next few games.

As it happened

But putting speculations to rest, the England captain waltzed to the fastest hundred in this edition of the tournament — off just 57 balls — and fourth quickest overall to toy with a listless Afghanistan bowling attack.

Chasing a mammoth total, Afghanistan did put up a fight, with Hashmatullah Shahidi playing a gritty knock of 76 off 100 deliveries, before being cleaned up by Jofra Archer. The 27-year-old stitched two partnerships — first a stand of 52 with Rahmat Shah, followed by the 94-run stand for the fifth wicket with Asghar Afghan. Against a star-studded England pace attack, Shahidi proved his class as he stood firm despite being hit on the helmet off a Mark Wood delivery.

READ| England smashes 25 sixes, breaks World Cup record

His efforts, however, were not enough as the side could reach only 247-8 in 50 overs.

For England, Adil Rashid was the pick of the bowlers, claiming three wickets for 66 runs.

Earlier in the day, winning the toss on a surface that favoured the batsmen, Morgan had no hesitations in batting first and the host reigned supreme. With Jason Roy out of the side for the next couple of games, World Cup debutant James Vince (26) joined Jonny Bairstow at the top and stitched an opening stand of 44.

After Vince’s dismissal, it was Bairstow — 90 off 99 deliveries — and Joe Root — 88 of 82 — who added 120 runs for the second wicket. While both Afghanistan pacers and spinners looked clueless in the middle, the England batsmen made the most of the situation. At a time when a century looked inevitable for Bairstow, he was caught and bowled by Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib, ten short of a three-digit score.

England pacer Jofra Archer (right) celebrates the wicket of Afghanistan's Rashid Khan at Old Trafford in Manchester on Tuesday.   -  AFP


As Bairstow headed back to the pavilion, Gulbadin exulted by flexing his muscles. The celebrations were short-lived as captain Morgan went hammer and tongs. The southpaw crafted his knock with 17 sixes and four boundaries, while Root held fort at the other end. The two stitched together a partnership of 189 runs.

Gulbadin Naib.   -  AP


Coming into the fixture, hopes were pinned on the Afghan spinners, but they looked abysmal with Rashid Khan conceding 110 runs in nine overs. Mujeeb conceded just 44 runs in 10 overs, but the Afghan pacers leaked runs, and that kept the England scoreboard ticking. Even though captain Gulbadin — three for 68 in 10 overs — removed Root and Morgan in quick succession, England was already in the driver’s seat by then.

Pitch invasion

As the Afghanistan players were walking off the pitch after their 150-run defeat against England, a group of three Afghan fans invaded the pitch to shake hands with the players. With the security officers chasing them, a couple of them tried running away to the players’ arena. One of them even tried roughing up one of the security officers. Earlier, another fan invaded the pitch and took the bails off, before he was taken off the ground by the ICC officials.

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