England smash Afghanistan and Cricket World Cup records

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England defeated Afghanistan by 150 runs in an entertaining Cricket World Cup encounter at Old Trafford in which the hosts broke multiple records.

Captain Eoin Morgan broke the record for the most sixes in an ODI with 17 maximums in a marvellous knock of 148 from 71 balls.

In doing so, he beat the previous record of 16 sixes jointly held by Chris Gayle, Rohit Sharma and AB de Villiers.

He scored the fourth fastest ODI century in only 57 balls as he led England to their highest World Cup score of 397-6, which incidentally is now the highest ODI score at Old Trafford.

England also broke their own record for the number of sixes in an ODI with 25. Their previous record was 24 against West Indies in Grenada earlier this year.

Afghanistan bowled very well in the first powerplay and restricted England’s ability to score runs.

Openers James Vince and Jonny Bairstow respected the Afghan bowlers and the conditions as they scored steadily at just more than five runs an over.

James Vince, who replaced the injured Jason Roy at the top of the order, has been criticised for making good starts but failing to make big scores, which is reflected in his low ODI batting average.

This continued today as he departed for 26 as an excellent bouncer from Dawlat Zadran which got big on Vince, hit his top edge, rebounded on to the helmet and looped up to Mujeeb Ur Rahman at short fine leg.

His opening partner Jonny Bairstow scored at a much slower rate than usual as he displayed patience to see off the early danger and play himself into the innings.

Once he did so, he started to unleash his bat as a weapon with some fantastic shots.

He registered his second half-century of the tournament. But as he was building towards a big score, he fell 10 runs short of his century with a tame dismissal, as he was caught and bowled by Afghan skipper Gulbadin Naib.

Joe Root contributed with the bat also as he scored an unselfish 88 off 82 balls. It was his huge partnership of 189 with Captain Morgan, which is the highest score by an England pair at a Cricket World Cup, that made a score of nearly 400 possible.

And in hindsight, it seems complete unfair that his and Bairstow’s innings will be overshadowed by Morgan’s.

Morgan came to the crease at the perfect time with a platform in place at 164-2, with eight wickets remaining and 20 overs to go for a big bash.

Afghanistan will rue the opportunity that they had to get Morgan out on 28, but Shapoor Zadran dropped him in the deep.

He had previous been a doubt for the game because of a back spasm which he suffered on Friday, and there were even murmurs that Jos Buttler could be pushed up the order to rest the captain.

But he showed no signs of injury as he smashed and swept the ball with his fast hands, and the crowd were thoroughly entertained as he hit home run after home run.

He registered his fifty in 36 balls. He then only needed another 21 to notch up his hundred. In the next 13 balls he scored another 47, before he was caught at long-off.

As he left the field to a standing ovation, there was a nice touch and sign of respect from Afghan skipper Gulbadin who shook his hand.

After Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes failed to have the same success as the top-order hitters, Moeen Ali silenced critics with a ruthless 31 from 9 balls which included four sixes.

In a match in which multiple records were broken, two unenviable ones went to the World’s Number 1 T20 bowler, Rashid Khan. His figures of 0-110 from 9 overs were the most expensive in a Cricket World Cup match. He also conceded 11 sixes, the most ever in an ODI.

Chasing 398 was always going to a tough ask for Afghanistan. And the innings did not get off to a great start when opener Noor Ali dragged onto his own stumps from Archer in the second ball of the second over.

Nevertheless they batted bravely, and in a mirror of the first innings, they made a good start in the first powerplay.

Skipper Gulbadin, pushed up the order to open, played some fantastic strokes and his 37-run 28-ball knock included four cracking fours and a six.

However the pace of Mark Wood was too much for the captain who top-edged going for a pull, and keeper Buttler sprinted like a wild cat and pounced to take the catch at short fine-leg.

Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi put on a half-century partnership, as the pair took their side to the 100-run milestone.

Rahmat had been batting very well but four runs short of his fifty, he hit a Rashid full toss straight to Bairstow at deep mid-wicket, leaving Afghanistan with a respectable 104-3 after 24.5 overs.

Former Afghan skipper Asghar Afghan came in at number five and also contributed with some runs in a fine innings. Like Rahmat though, he too fell short of his fifty by six runs, in a 48-ball hit.

The best of the Afghan batsmen was Hashmatullah Shahidi who put together a gutsy knock of 76 runs off 100 balls. His brilliant innings came to end when he was bowled by Archer.

It was the first time that Afghanistan batted out the innings in this Cricket World Cup campaign, as they finished the 50 overs on 247-8. For a side that is stronger in the bowling department and can struggle with batting, this is a marked sign of improvement.

Another of the new records that was set was that of most sixes in a Cricket World Cup match, which now stands at 33.

Afghanistan showed another good account of themselves, although their fielding could have been better. The improved batting should give them some confidence. If they had batted like this against Sri Lanka, they would have beaten them.

The Afghansโ€™ sole Cricket World Cup victory was in 2015 against Scotland. They would very much like to achieve a victory during this campaign.

The number 1 ranked ODI team in the World, England are proving that the talk of them being favourites is not just unwarranted hype.

England are aiming to win the Cricket World Cup for the first time in their history, having been finalists on no less than three occasions.

Their loss to Pakistan seems like a distant memory and England look like they might be peaking at the right time as they mount their challenge to lift the title in July.

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