England captain Eoin Morgan had a dream inning of 148 runs in just 71 balls which includes 17 sixes, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow made excellent contributions, Moeen Ali sadistically doubled down on an overpowered Afghanistan attack.
England’s opponents batted better than they have at any other time in this World Cup but there were very encouraging signs for the big tests ahead from the performances of Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and, yes, Adil Rashid, with the ball. Archer and Wood bowl with venomous and dangerously skiddy pace. All bodes well for England and for those who have shares in helmet manufacturers.
The embracement was felt most by Rashid Khan as he ends up with the worst-ever figures by a bowler in World Cup cricket, which really summed up Afghanistan’s flight. The match was over at the halfway, and Afghanistan chose to treat the second half as an endurance challenge more than anything else. Hashmatullah Shahidi showed a lot of fight despite a sickening blow to the helmet for his fifty, which captured the spirit of this team. Unfortunately, they didn’t have enough skill to match that spirit.
Gulbadin Naib, Afghanistan captain:
How they played after 30 overs was special. Credit to Morgan for how he batted. One of the best innings I’ve ever seen. This wicket was totally different from the ones we’ve been playing on. Mujeeb did really well, did his job.
Unfortunately, Rashid was expensive and didn’t deliver. Did a lot of good things in the field, but we dropped the catch of Morgan. And he capitalized. Worked hard in every department. We’re improving day by day.
Have a lot of work to do in every department. Big target but the message to the boys was to play their normal game. Playing fifty overs is a good thing for our batters.
Eoin Morgan, England captain and Man of the Match:
I think Clive Llyod can still hit the ball longer than me, especially with my bad back. Today was fantastic for us. The wicket was very good. I thought everything from the way we started – our openers started well. Bairstow and Root were excellent, and then we just took a gamble and it paid off. Didn’t really think it was going to be my day at any point, to be honest. I’ve had a bad back, looks like I’m getting old (laughs).
There are many guys in the dressing room and who can produce an innings like that – but to match up to the youngsters is amazing. I didn’t think I could produce an innings like that, honestly. Afghanistan is a side with a lot of potentials – a completely different challenge with their spin attack. I have changed in terms of my game – everyone plays the shots I started my career with – the scoops and the sweeps, etc. However, right now,
I’m stronger down the ground than I have ever been, and life seems to have come full circle that way because cricket has evolved in a way that there are fields that the oppositions set for those funky shots now.
The next two-three games are pretty crucial. Want to bring that level of intensity in every game we play. Don’t want to slack off. You will make mistakes. We spilled a couple of catches today which can happen. Throw Stokes in there as well bowling 90mph (competition between Wood and Archer). Guys competing at this level is amazing.