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ICC World Cup: Afghanistan beat England by 69 runs: Proved ‘one day for us’

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In a major upset in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, Afghanistan defeated Defending Champions England by 69 runs in Delhi. Chasing a target of 285 runs, England were bowled out for 215 in 40.3 overs.

Harry Brook with 66 runs and Dawid Malan with 32 runs made valuable contributions for England. For Afghanistan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan clinched three wickets each while Mohammad Nabi got two wickets.
 
Earlier, put into bat, Afghanistan were all out for 284 in 49.5 overs. Rahmanullah Gurbaz with 80 runs and Ikram Alikhil with 58 were top scorers for Afghanistan. For England, Adil Rashid took 3 wickets and Mark Wood claimed 2.

A 14-match losing streak in World Cups came to an end for Afghanistan whose spinners led them to a famous win against England in Delhi on Sunday (October 15). Chasing an under-par target of 285, the defending champions were derailed by Afghanistan’s spinners who shared eight of the ten wickets to fall.

With dew expected on a good batting pitch, England would have fancied their chances of notching up a comfortable win. However, Fazalhaq Farooqi set the tone early for Afghanistan by taking out Jonny Bairstow with a sharp inswinger. The LBW call, albeit marginal, was the perfect start for the Asian side who needed early wickets to dent England’s powerful batting line-up. Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, who had earlier produced a priceless cameo down the order, then got the massive wicket of Joe Root to ensure that Afghanistan was here for a big fight.

Contrary to the earlier games in Delhi, the surface for today assisted spin a lot more and that played right into Afghanistan’s hands, given their extreme dependence on the spinners. Veteran Mohammad Nabi soon joined the act as he dislodged Dawid Malan who looked to be the key batter for England in this run chase. The spinners were getting enough hold off the deck and some turn to trouble England’s batters who were clearly taken aback by Afghanistan’s assault.

Harry Brook looked promising and held one end up but kept running out of partners at the other end. England were still in the game, given the conditions and their batting depth. With dew inevitable, the title holders needed to get the game deep so that they could exploit the wet conditions later on. But that didn’t go according to plan as wickets kept falling regularly. Naveen-ul-Haq’s nip-backer to castle Jos Buttler was a massive moment in the game, considering the England’s captain’s ability to finish games at the back end.

Rashid soon removed the dangerous Liam Livingstone too as Afghanistan started to rule the roost in the contest. That England didn’t have a single half-century stand sums up their batting effort in the run chase. Brook fought a lone battle at his end and for a while it seemed like Chris Woakes might give him the required support to take the game deep. But Mujeeb returned and cleaned up Woakes before inflicting the game-sealing breakthrough of Brook. From then on, it was only about the margin of defeat for England as Afghanistan created history.

Earlier in the day, Afghanistan got to their highest-ever World Cup score while batting first, thanks to fifties from Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ikram Alikhil. The former set the tone with a blistering knock upfront, particularly making full use of the first Powerplay in which Afghanistan racked up 79 runs. Good batting conditions, a new ball and a shorter boundary at one end meant that batters could make merry, particularly in terms of boundary-hitting. Gurbaz along with his opening partner Ibrahim Zadran produced a century stand to give Afghanistan the perfect start for a big score.

The platform was laid for a total in excess of 325 but England fought back through their spinners. Adil Rashid used all his experience to exploit the conditions on offer to trigger a mini collapse. Rahmat Shah was stumped off a wily leg break while a silly run out saw the end of Gurbaz who missed out on a deserving century. Apart from Rashid, Livingstone and Root also chipped in effectively to create problems for Afghanistan’s batters. Wickets kept falling and for a while, it seemed like a repeat of their batting performance against India.

However, Ikram Alikhil in his first World Cup game produced an invaluable fifty and shored up the innings with the lower order. Rashid and Mujeeb weighed in with useful cameos as the lower order got Afghanistan to their best total in World Cups while batting first. Skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi wanted a score in the vicinity of 300 at the toss and it did seem like the total of 284 was a bit under-par. But Afghanistan’s spinners rose to the challenge and created enough damage to ensure that the game was virtually done by the time dew came into the scene.

Brief scores: Afghanistan 284 in 49.5 overs (Rahmanullah Gurbaz 80, Ikram Alikhil 58; Adil Rashid 3-42, Joe Root 1-19) beat England 215 in 40.3 overs (Harry Brook 66; Rashid Khan 3-37, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman 3-51) by 69 runs

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