Resilient Afghanistan Trumps Defending Champions England

History is evident of the fact that a gritty Afghanistan squad has always proven to pose a challenge to cricketing stalwarts. In the last World Cup, the Afghans let the Asian giants, Pakistan and India off the hook. But this match was different as Afghanistan left the defending Champions shell-shocked by defending a challenging score of 284 runs, delivering the biggest upset of this edition.

After an unconventional decision by the English skipper to bowl first, the Afghans posted a total of 284 runs, their second-highest in ODI World Cups, scripting a historic 69-run victory, at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, Delhi on Sunday.

In the first innings, England were left perplexed by the approach of Afghan openers, Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran. Gurbaz turned out to be the major contributor to the initial 114-run partnership by funneling 75 runs before Zadran fell for England’s Adil Rashid’s tactics. The stumping of newbie Rahmat Shah and the run-out of Gurbaz in successive deliveries got England back into the game. But the resilient Ikram Akhlil stood his ground scoring 58 runs. He was assisted by Rashid Khan(23 runs) and Mujeeb Ur Rahman(28 runs).

In the second innings, the Afghans got their act right by putting their faith in their spin trio of Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Rashid Khan, and Md. Nabi. The only respite for England was the performance of their explosive batters, Dawid Malan(32 runs in 39 balls) and Harry Brook(66 runs in 61 balls). Brook provided some solace to the English fans as he crossed the coveted 50-run mark, scoring seven 4s and 1 six in the process. Brook however looked helpless as his compatriots fell one by one. He finally succumbed to Mujeeb Ur Rahman’s delivery by getting caught out by wicketkeeper Ikram Alikhil.

It took the defending champions, England some time to realize what hit them, leaving them shell-shocked in the process. The grand English collapse started when Afghan seamer Fazal Farooqi got the dominating English opener, Jonny Bairstow for an LBW. After that, the second innings turned out to be a wicket-taking bonanza for the Afghan spin trio of Nabi, Rashid, and Mujeeb, sharing 8 wickets for the same. This match not only etched Afghanistan’s name in the annals of history but also ended their 14-match losing streak in World Cups since 2015. 

With their names scripted in the books of ODI World Cup history and ending their victory drought, the only thing for Afghanistan is to go up. Going forward, it would be interesting to see the approach of other teams against this resurgent Afghan squad.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.