ICC Cricket World Cup, Old Trafford
England 397-6: Morgan 148, Bairstow 90, Root 88; Gulbadin 3-68
Afghanistan 247-8: Hashmatullah 76; Archer 3-52
England won by 150 runs
England started the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup as favourites and today they showed the Old Trafford crowd exactly why they held that tag as they defeated Afghanistan by 150 runs.
Yes, you could have argued that it was only Afghanistan – a team that are playing in their second World Cup, but the level of professionalism on display from Eoin Morgan and his men was that of the highest quality.
Many expected England to bowl first if they won the toss, bowl Afghanistan out cheaply and everyone would be heading home in the middle of the afternoon. This wasn’t to be however, as Morgan opted to bat first on the same pitch that was used for India’s victory over Pakistan on Sunday.
People were raising eyebrows at the decision but Morgan vindicated his own decision by scoring 148 off 71 balls in one of the best innings the game has ever seen.
There were questions of course whether or not Morgan would play or not after he suffered a spasm of the back during the win against the West Indies in Southampton last Friday.
Well enough to play, he made his intentions clear from the outset slamming two early sixes – one of which wouldn’t have looked out of place on a golf course. The 32-year-old went on to hammer a further 15 sixes, ending up with 17 in total which was the highest number ever scored by an individual in an international innings.
Morgan offered a half chance on 28 but then punished the Afghanistan attack as he continued his onslaught – hitting a eyewatering 120 off the next 46 deliveries that he faced.
Off the back of a second wicket stand of 120 between Root and Jonny Bairstow, who scored 90 himself, the former and Morgan added 189 for the next wicket in 17 overs.
Root busied himself during his innings and provided an anchor which gave the powerful strikers around him a license to play their natural game. The Test captain fell 12 runs short of a 17th ODI century. He hit five fours and a six but crucially ran well between the wickets.
After Morgan’s departure, Afghanistan picked up two late wickets, those of Buttler (2) and Stokes (2). However, Moeen Ali fired 16 off nine deliveries as he and Chris Woakes propelled their side to 397 for six off their 50 overs. This was their highest World Cup total and the highest ever ODI score at Old Trafford and to add further insult to injury, inflicted the worst ever World Cup bowling figures on leg-spinner Rashid Khan (0-110).
The 2019 edition of the World Cup was chopped to only 10 teams. Doesn’t sound like much of a World Cup but the rationale behind it was that one-sided matches would be eradicated. This theory was being put to the test again.
In reply, Afghanistan lost an early wicket as Dalwat Zadran couldn’t handle the pace of Jofra Archer. Many inside the ground would have thought “here we go, this will be over in no time”. Although the Afghans didn’t disgrace themselves and put up a fight, managing their highest World Cup total (
This was largely down to Afghanistan’s highest World Cup partnership for any wicket of 94 between Hashmatullah Shahidi and Asghar Afghan (44). Hashmatullah top scored with 76 and was also supported well by Rahmat Shah (46).
The pick of the English bowlers was Archer who claimed figures of 3-52 off his 10 overs.
England now move to the top of the table, having overtaken Australia on run rate and travel to Leeds where they take on Sri Lanka on Friday. Afghanistan remain at the foot of the table, three points adrift of Pakistan and face India in Southampton on Saturday.
Feature image: PA