CRICKET WORLD CUP:
AFGHANISTAN BEAT ENGLAND BY 69 RUNS
Afghanistan delivered a major surprise at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 by defeating the reigning champions, England, with a convincing 69-run victory. This thrilling match unfolded on a Sunday at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi.
The defending champions, England, won the toss and chose to field first, putting Afghanistan in to bat. However, their decision proved to be a double-edged sword. Afghanistan’s batting prowess was displayed as they posted a competitive total.
In response to Afghanistan’s batting performance, England’s innings faltered, and they could only score 215 runs.
The less-favored team established a challenging target of 285 runs for England, courtesy of an explosive innings by opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who scored 80 runs off just 57 balls, and a solid half-century by wicketkeeper Ikram Alikhil.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz reached his fifty in a flurry of boundaries and aggressive strokes. However, their batting lineup faced setbacks as leg-spinner Adil Rashid took action, claiming three crucial wickets for just 42 runs.
Rashid’s impressive performance saw him dismissing Zadran and expertly stumping Rahmat Shah in his next over.
Gurbaz appeared to be in prime form, closing in on a remarkable century in the World Cup. He had hammered eight boundaries and sent four deliveries sailing over the ropes, displaying a dominant performance.
However, the 21-year-old’s quest for a century was abruptly halted when he was involved in a run-out situation. Skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi took the risk and called for a quick run, leading to Gurbaz being run out by substitute fielder David Willey at midwicket.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman Roles
As Gurbaz reluctantly returned to the pavilion, he was visibly frustrated and disappointed. His frustration was evident as he vented his emotions by angrily striking his bat against the boundary rope.
Afghanistan’s lower-order batters, Rashid Khan with 23 runs and Mujeeb Ur Rahman with 28 played vital roles in boosting their team’s total. This lower-order resurgence allowed Afghanistan to set a formidable target and gave their bowlers the confidence to attack England’s batters.
England, known for their strong batting lineup, suffered an early setback when left-arm pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi removed opener Jonny Bairstow in just the second over of the innings. This early wicket was a significant blow to England’s aspirations in the match.
Subsequently, Afghanistan’s spinners assumed control of the game. Off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman accounted for the wicket of Joe Root, who managed only 11 runs, while Mohammad Nabi dismissed Dawid Malan, who had scored 32.
England’s captain, Jos Buttler, was also sent back to the pavilion after scoring just nine runs, falling victim to the pace of bowler Naveen-ul-Haq.
The situation worsened for England as the star leg-spinner Rashid Khan compounded their troubles by taking the wickets of both Liam Livingstone and Adil Rashid.
Harry Brook showed remarkable resilience with his innings of 66 runs. Still, his resistance was broken when he was dismissed by Mujeeb Ur Rahman in the 35th over, leaving England in a precarious position at 169-8.
Mujeeb’s outstanding performance earned him the well-deserved Player of the Match award.
World Cup Victory
It’s an incredibly proud moment to be a part of the World Cup and to secure a victory against the reigning champions. This accomplishment is a source of immense pride for our entire region, and I couldn’t be happier with our team’s performance,” expressed Mujeeb.
He further shared insights into his bowling strategy, stating,
“As spinners, it’s always challenging to bowl during the powerplay, but I’ve dedicated much practice in the nets to maintain consistency in my deliveries. We were also well aware that the dew factor would come into play, so our preparations considered that.
Rashid expressed his hope that this victory would bring some much-needed smiles to the people in Afghanistan. The country has recently been affected by multiple earthquakes, resulting in the tragic loss of around 1,000 lives and injuries to over 2,000 individuals.
England’s journey in the tournament had its ups and downs. They started with a nine-wicket loss to New Zealand in the opening match but bounced back strongly with a convincing 137-run victory against Bangladesh.
Captain Buttler acknowledged the tough loss to Afghanistan but congratulated them for their impressive performance.
They outperformed us today. We fell short of our desired level in bowling and batting,” stated Buttler candidly.
He acknowledged Afghanistan’s formidable bowling attack, saying, “Afghanistan possesses a highly skilled bowling lineup, and they certainly applied significant pressure on us.”
England currently occupies the fifth position in the group standings with one win from three matches, just ahead of Afghanistan.
On the other hand, Afghanistan faced substantial defeats in their previous two matches, losing to Bangladesh by six wickets and to the host nation, India, by eight wickets.
Before this match, Afghanistan had a challenging World Cup record, with only one win in their last 17 games. Their sole victory occurred during the 2015 World Cup against Scotland.