New Delhi: In one of the biggest upsets in cricket history, Afghanistan defeated the defending champions England by 69 runs in the 13th match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi on Sunday. The Afghan team, which had lost its first two matches, showed remarkable resilience and skill to outplay the English side, which had won the previous edition of the tournament in 2019.
Afghanistan’s victory was built on the back of a brilliant batting performance by opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who smashed 80 runs off just 57 balls, and a clinical bowling display by young spinners Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan, who took three wickets each. England, who were chasing a target of 285 runs, never looked comfortable against the Afghan spinners and were bowled out for 215 runs in 44.4 overs.
Gurbaz sets the tone with a blistering knock
After winning the toss and opting to bat first, Afghanistan got off to a flying start as Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran put on 114 runs for the first wicket in 16.4 overs. Gurbaz was particularly aggressive, hitting eight fours and four sixes in his innings. He reached his half-century in 33 balls and continued to dominate the English bowlers. He was especially harsh on Sam Curran, whom he hit for 20 runs in an over, and Adil Rashid, whom he hit for two fours and a six.
Gurbaz was eventually dismissed by Moeen Ali in the 17th over, but his knock had given Afghanistan a solid platform to build on. Ikram Alikhil then joined Zadran and played a steady knock of 58 runs off 66 balls, adding 71 runs for the second wicket. Zadran fell for 43 runs off 64 balls, but Alikhil carried on till the 40th over, hitting three fours and two sixes.
Afghanistan lost some quick wickets in the middle overs, but Mujeeb Ur Rahman provided some late fireworks with a cameo of 28 runs off 16 balls, hitting three fours and a six. He was the last man out as Afghanistan was bowled out for 284 runs in 49.5 overs. For England, Moeen Ali and Mark Wood took two wickets each, while Chris Woakes, Sam Curran, Adil Rashid and Liam Livingstone took one wicket each.
England crumbles under pressure
England’s chase got off to a shaky start as they lost Jason Roy for a duck in the first over, caught behind off Mujeeb Ur Rahman. Jonny Bairstow and David Malan then tried to steady the innings with a 39-run stand for the second wicket, but Bairstow was run out for 18 runs by a direct hit from Hashmatullah Shahidi.
Malan and Joe Root then added another 39 runs for the third wicket, but both fell in quick succession to Rashid Khan. Malan was caught by Shahidi for 32 runs off 38 balls, while Root was stumped by Alikhil for 11 runs off 22 balls. England were reduced to 86 for four in the 19th over and were under immense pressure.
Captain Jos Buttler and Harry Brook tried to rebuild the innings with a 41-run stand for the fifth wicket, but Buttler was caught by Najibullah Zadran off Naveen-ul-Haq for nine runs off 24 balls. Brook then found some support from Liam Livingstone as they added another 41 runs for the sixth wicket, but Livingstone was caught by Shahidi off Mujeeb Ur Rahman for ten runs off nine balls.
Brook was the only batsman who showed some resistance as he scored his maiden ODI fifty off 60 balls. He was eventually bowled by Mujeeb Ur Rahman for 66 runs off 73 balls, hitting six fours and a six. His dismissal virtually ended England’s hopes of winning the match as they lost their last four wickets for just six runs. Adil Rashid was the last man out for 20 runs off 10 balls as England was bowled out for 215 runs in 44.4 overs.
For Afghanistan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan were the picks of the bowlers as they took three wickets each, giving away just 37 and 38 runs respectively. Naveen-ul-Haq also bowled well and took two wickets for 42 runs, while Gulbadin Naib and Mohammad Nabi took one wicket each.
Afghanistan’s historic win
Afghanistan’s win was their first ever against England in ODIs and their second ever in World Cups. They had previously beaten Scotland by one wicket in the 2015 edition. It was also their first win in the 2023 World Cup, after losing to India by 66 runs and to New Zealand by seven wickets in their first two matches.
Afghanistan’s captain Hashmatullah Shahidi was ecstatic after the match and praised his team for their performance. He said, “It is a very proud moment for us and for our country. We have worked very hard for this and we are very happy to beat a strong team like England. We played very well in all three departments and we showed our character and talent. Gurbaz was outstanding with the bat and Mujeeb and Rashid were brilliant with the ball. We dedicate this win to our fans and our people who have supported us throughout.”
England’s captain Jos Buttler was disappointed with his team’s performance and admitted that they were outplayed by Afghanistan. He said, “We have to give credit to Afghanistan, they played a fantastic game and deserved to win. They batted very well and put us under pressure from the start. We didn’t bowl well enough and we didn’t bat well enough either. We lost too many wickets and we couldn’t chase down the target. It is a wake-up call for us and we have to bounce back quickly in the next match.”
With this result, Afghanistan moved up to the sixth spot in the points table with two points from three matches, while England slipped to the fifth spot with two points from three matches. Afghanistan will face Bangladesh in their next match on October 18, while England will take on Sri Lanka on October 19.