World Cup 2019: Morgan's six-fest powers England to 397 against Afghanistan

Eoin Morgan showed no signs of back trouble by plundering Afghanistan bowlers to all corners at Old Trafford, Manchester in the 2019 World Cup.

Morgan celebrates scoring his hundred against Afghanistan.   -  AP

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 anyone in ODI cricket. England stopped three-runs short of the 400-run mark in its World Cup fixture against Afghanistan.

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.

READ | Morgan slams fastest century in World Cup 2019, fourth quickest overall

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

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

 

After Vince’s dismissal on 26, 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.

As Bairstow headed back to the pavilion, Gulbadin exulted by flexing his muscles.

However, celebrations were short-lived as things went haywire for the Asian team in the next hour, with Morgan going hammer and tongs at the bowlers. While Morgan crafted his knock with 17 sixes and four boundaries, Root held fort at the other end. The two stitched together a partnership of 189 runs.

Morgan's wagon wheel.

Coming into the fixture, hopes were pinned on the Afghan spinners, but they looked abysmal with Rashid Khan conceding 110 runs in nine overs. Though Mujeeb gave away just 44 runs in 10 overs, the Afghan pacers, too, leaked runs. And to add to the team’s woes, the Afghan cricketers displayed a shoddy show on the field.

Even though captain Gulbadin -- three for 68 in 10 overs -- removed Root and Morgan in quick succession, England was already in driver’s seat by then. After the two departed, England did lose two more quick wickets in Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes, but that didn’t hurt the home team.