NEW DELHI: An all-round Afghanistan caused one of the greatest ODI World Cup upsets on Sunday, stunning the defending champions England by 69 runs in the national capital for their first win of the 2023 edition.
Riding on a power-packed performances from opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz and spinners, the ninth-ranked Afghanistan notched up only their second-ever win at the marquee tournament — the other win for the Afghans came against Scotland back in 2015 in their first World Cup appearance.
The shock defeat for England has now put their title defence is in real trouble as Jos Buttler and co. suffered their second loss in three matches.
Chasing 285 to win, after opener Gurbaz had hit a blistering 80, England were bowled out for 215 despite Harry Brook’s 66 with spinners Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan claiming three wickets each.
Afghanistan came into Sunday’s clash having lost their opening two games in India and on a 14-match losing World Cup streak.
After Gurbaz and the recalled Ikram Alikhil, with 58, had given them a decent target to defend, Afghanistan’s bowlers went to work, striking at regular intervals.
As It Happened
Jonny Bairstow (two) was lbw to Fazalhaq Farooqi in the second over before Joe Root was clean bowled by 22-year-old man of the match Mujeeb for 11.
Mohammad Nabi got rid of Dawid Malan, who made 140 against Bangladesh, for 32 to precipitate a slide which saw England slump to 138-6.
Skipper Jos Buttler was clean bowled by seamer Naveen-ul-Haq for nine, Rashid Khan had Liam Livingstone lbw on 10 before Nabi also dismissed Sam Curran (10).
England were tied down, at one stage going more than eight overs without hitting a boundary until Brook managed the team’s lone six of the innings in the 31st over.
Mujeeb sent back Chris Woakes before effectively sealing the game in his next over, having Brook caught behind by Alikhil with England at 169-8.
Brook’s 66 came off 61 balls with seven fours and a six.
Late fireworks from Adil Rashid (20), Reece Topley (15) and Mark Wood (18) only served to take England past the 200-mark.
Earlier, Gurbaz, 21, piled up his runs off 57 balls with eight fours and four sixes to register his eighth score in excess of fifty in his ODI career.
However, he was furious that he was unable to go on to make a sixth century when he was involved in a disastrous run-out mix-up with captain Hashmatullah Shahidi in the 19th over.
Gurbaz failed to make his ground and Buttler whipped off the bails from a throw by substitute fielder David Willey.
An angry Gurbaz smashed his bat into a chair as he departed with his team on 122-3.
Gurbaz had needed just 33 balls to get to his half-century as Afghanistan, put into bat, stormed to 100 without loss from 77 deliveries.
Once Gurbaz was dismissed, England’s spinners dragged the champions back into the contest in the middle overs.
The impressive Adil Rashid finished with 3-42 from his 10 overs having initially broken Afghanistan’s 114-run opening stand when he had Ibrahim Zadran (28) caught.
But Alikhil chimed in with a 66-ball 58 after surviving being hit on the shoulder by a 147 km/h delivery from fast bowler Mark Wood.
Mujeeb added 28 to the total off 16 balls as Afghanistan finished strongly.
England’s seamers endured a day to forget with Sam Curran conceding 46 runs off four overs and new ball bowler Chris Woakes coughing up 41 off his four.
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England went into Sunday’s game after a loss to New Zealand and victory over Bangladesh while Afghanistan suffered heavy defeats by six wickets to Bangladesh and eight wickets to India.
(With inputs from AFP)
Watch World Cup 2023: Afghanistan beat England by 69 runs