Manchester, June 18 (IANS) Afghanistan bowlers were smashed to all corners of Old Trafford as England captain Eoin Morgan’s whirlwind innings of 148 helped his side post a mammoth 397/6 in their World Cup clash on Tuesday. Morgan’s knock came off just 71 deliveries as he hit four fours and a record 17 sixes. The 32-year-old’s century came off just 57 balls, thus making it the fourth fastest World Cup ton of all time and the fastest in this edition of the tournament.
Afghanistan’s star spinner Rashid Khan coped the worst of England’s onlsaught. He ended with figures of 0/110 in 9 overs, making it the most expensive spell in World Cup history and the joint second most expensive figures in ODIs overall.
An embattled Afghanistan came into the game bottom of the table, having lost all four matches they have played thus far and their net run rate standing at -1.638. England won the toss and chose to bat first. Jonny Bairstow was accompanied by James Vince at the top of the order with Jason Roy sitting out with a hamstring tear.
The opening partnership was on 44 when Vince fell to Dawlat Zadran. However Joe Root came in and consolidated with Bairstow. England’s second-wicket pair added 120 runs, but Bairstow missed out on a ton by 10 runs when he chipped a delivery straight back into the hands of Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib. That was the last ball of the 30th over and the score was 164/2. But Afghanistan’s joy was shortlived as Morgan walked into the middle.
Taking strike, he didn’t take long to start decimating the Afghan bowling attack. Morgan took 35 balls to reach his first 50 and the transition to the second took just 22 deliveries.
Morgan hit 17 sixes in his innings, thus breaking the record for most maximums hit in an ODI innings which was previously held jointly by Rohit Sharma and AB de Villiers. His partnership with Root ballooned to 189 off 102 deliveries before it was broken when the latter fell to Gulbadin in the 47th over.
The Afghanistan skipper also dismissed Morgan two balls later, but that was only after his opposite number had hit 19 runs off the over. The score was 359/4 at the time of Morgan’s dismissal and with Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes at the crease, there was little relief for Afghanistan.
Buttler however fell after making just two runs off as many balls, holing out at mid-off off a slower deliver from Dawlat Zadran.
Rashid Khan, who had given away a whopping 96 runs for no wickets in the eight overs that he bowled, was brought in to bowl the 49th. He conceded 14 runs in that over, thus taking his tally to 110. Zadran bowled the last over and dismissed Stokes off his first ball, but Moeen Ali then hit 19 runs off it, thus taking England within three runs of the 400-run mark.
Brief Scores: England: 397/6 in 50 overs (Eoin Morgan 148, Jonny Bairstow 90) vs Afghanistan