Records tumble as Morgan blasts England to victory
England dominate Afghanistan in ICC Cricket World Cup clash
Eoin Morgan produced a batting masterclass against Afghanistan to light up England’s World Cup campaign at Emirates Old Trafford.
It was a scintillating performance by the England captain, who shrugged off the back problem that had put his place in the line-up in doubt, as he raced to the fourth-fastest ever World Cup century and hit a record 17 ODI sixes in an astonishing late onslaught.
England’s total of 397-6 was a new record for an ODI at Old Trafford, beating the one set by India just two days prior and although Afghanistan replied gallantly with 247-8 they finished 151 runs short of their unlikely target.
Morgan came to the crease in the 30th over with England already well set on 164-2 thanks to an impressive knock of 90 from 99 balls by Jonny Bairstow that had included 8 fours and three sixes.
But Bairstow’s excellent innings proved to be just the hors d’oeuvre for what followed.
Morgan went on the offensive straight away, despatching a free hit for six after Gulbadin Naib had overstepped and he then clubbed the following legitimate delivery from the Afghanistan skipper for another maximum.
Afghanistan’s questionable fielding let them down badly at this point when Morgan was dropped-missed completely in fact-by Mohammad Nabi on the square leg boundary when the England skipper was on 28 and he celebrated that reprieve by hammering the unlucky Rashid Khan for two sixes in the same over.
At the other end Joe Root simply played a supporting role, smoothly progressing to a 54-ball half century that only contained two fours, and he then hit one six before departing for 88 off 82 balls when lofting Gulbadin to Rahmat Shah at long on.
Meanwhile Morgan continued to lay waste to the Afghanistan bowling with a thrilling display of big hitting.
The left-handed batsman went to his half-century off just 36 balls when launching Mohammad Nabi into the crowd at long-on for his fifth six.
And there was no containing Morgan who next pulled Mujeeb Rahman for another six in the following over to take England to 252-2 after 40 overs, with 91 runs having coming from the previous 60 balls.
The final ten however saw a further dizzying 145 more runs added as two consecutive Morgan maximums off Nabi in the 41st over brought up the hundred partnership from 65 balls.
And for good measure Morgan upped the scoring rate by hitting three sixes in one over off Rashid Khan, a man considered the best leg spinner in the world when it comes to white-ball cricket, and he went on to repeat the feat off Gulbadin in the 47th over before holing out at long-off attempting to hit a fourth maximum.
The England captain depart to a standing ovation having made 148 off just 71 balls and his innings will be long remembered.
Morgan’s 17 sixes are the most by any batsman in an ODI, and England’s 25 sixes the most by any team in an ODI with the unfortunate Rashid Khan conceding 11 and the owner of the worst figures in a World Cup match.
The game, as a contest, was surely over by this point but Afghanistan gamely battled away, playing some attractive shots, to reach 235-7 from their 50 overs, adding 8 more sixes to create a new World Cup record of 33 in total.
They lost Noor Ali Zadran, bowled via an inside edge by Jofra Archer for 0, in the second over while Gulbadin Naib hit 4 fours and a six in making 37 before top-edging a pull off Mark Wood to Jos Buttler.
Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi added 52 for the third wicket before Rahmat pulled Adil Rashid to Bairstow at deep midwicket for 46.
Shahidi hit two sixes and five fours either side of surviving a nasty looking blow on the side of his helmet from a short delivery by Wood, and he went on to make a very creditable 76 before being bowled by Archer in the 46th over.
By then Asghar Afghan had edged Rashid to Root at slip after an enterprising 44 that included two sixes and Mohammad Nabi had holed out to Ben Stokes off Rashid (3-66) for 9.
Najibullah Zadran was bowled by Wood for 15 and Rashid Khan found Bairstow in the deep to give Archer a third wicket as England completed a comfortable 150 run victory.
But everyone went home talking about Morgan’s fabulous innings.