Afghanistan stun defending champions England at World Cup

Published October 15, 2023
Afghanistan’s Mujeeb Ur Rahman (C) celebrates the wicket of England’s Chris Woakes during their 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup match at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi on Sunday. — AFP
Afghanistan’s Mujeeb Ur Rahman (C) celebrates the wicket of England’s Chris Woakes during their 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup match at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi on Sunday. — AFP

Afghanistan pulled off a stunning 69-run win over defending champions England at the World Cup on Sunday, their second ever win in the tournament lifting them off the bottom of the group standings.

Afghanistan came into the match having lost 16 of their last 17 World Cup games, their only victory coming against Scotland in 2015.

Put into bat, Afghanistan posted 284 after a blistering knock of 80 from opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz and a half-century from Ikram Alikhil.

England crumbled to 215 all out in reply with Harry Brook the only batter to adapt to the conditions with a fighting 66 as spinners Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan took three wickets each.

Mujeeb picked up the key wickets of Joe Root and Brook to set up a famous win and he picked up the player of the match award.

“Very proud moment to be here in the World Cup and beating the champions, it’s a great achievement for the whole region. I’m so happy with this performance,” Mujeeb said.

“As spinners it’s hard to bowl in the powerplay, but I’ve been working in the nets to be as consistent as possible… We knew dew would be a factor.”

Rashid said he hoped the victory would put a smile on the faces of people back in Afghanistan, where multiple earthquakes have killed around 1,000 and injured over 2,000.

Opening stand

Afghanistan got off to a flying start with a 114-run opening stand between Gurbaz and Zadran who scored at eight an over in the first powerplay.

Gurbaz brought up his fifty rapidly, but they lost wickets as leg-spinner Adil Rashid (3-42) dismissed Zadran and had Rahmat Shah stumped in his next over.

Gurbaz looked well set for a World Cup century having smashed eight fours and four sixes, but the 21-year-old was run out by substitute David Willey at midwicket when skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi called him for a risky run.

Gurbaz was livid as he trudged off, smashing his bat on the boundary rope on his way back to the pavilion.

Alikhil and Rashid Khan steadied the ship with a 43-run stand, but the latter was dismissed when he looked to clear the long on boundary in Rashid’s final over.

Root — who took four catches — timed his dive to perfection to take a stunning catch in the deep. Alikhil departed for 58 and Mujeeb made 28 off 16 balls.

“I told the boys that 280-290 was enough on this track as it would assist the spinners,” Afghanistan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi said.

Early wickets

England lost early wickets, Fazalhaq Farooqi trapping Jonny Bairstow lbw and Mujeeb dismissing Root with a quicker ball that kept low and crashed into the stumps.

Dawid Malan made a patient 32 but fell to Mohammad Nabi, giving Zadran a simple catch in the covers, and skipper Jos Buttler was bowled by a peach of a delivery from Naveen-ul-Haq to leave England reeling at 91-4.

Brook stood firm, however, bringing up his half-century in 45 balls with confident strokes, but he was caught behind off to Mujeeb to spark wild celebrations before Rashid cleaned up the tail.

“Disappointing, a tough loss to take. Congratulations to Afghanistan, they outplayed us today. We were not at the level we wanted to be with the ball and the bat,” Buttler said.

“Afghanistan have a really skilful attack… They put us under a lot of pressure.”

England are fifth in the group standings with one win from three matches, one place ahead of Afghanistan.

Opinion

Editorial

After the deluge
Updated 16 Jun, 2024

After the deluge

There was a lack of mental fortitude in the loss against India while against US, the team lost all control and displayed a lack of cohesion and synergy.
Fugue state
16 Jun, 2024

Fugue state

WITH its founder in jail these days, it seems nearly impossible to figure out what the PTI actually wants. On one...
Sindh budget
16 Jun, 2024

Sindh budget

SINDH’S Rs3.06tr budget for the upcoming financial year is a combination of populist interventions, attempts to...
Slow start
Updated 15 Jun, 2024

Slow start

Despite high attendance, the NA managed to pass only a single money bill during this period.
Sindh lawlessness
Updated 15 Jun, 2024

Sindh lawlessness

A recently released report describes the law and order situation in Karachi as “worryingly poor”.
Punjab budget
15 Jun, 2024

Punjab budget

PUNJAB’S budget for 2024-25 provides much fodder to those who believe that the increased provincial share from the...