Afghanistan vs England Match started at 2:00 pm on Sunday 15 October 2023 at Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi, India. England won the toss and chose to field first.
Afghanistan 284 beat England 215 by 69 runs
Afghanistan vs England Highlights:
Afghanistan scripted the most significant chapter in their international cricket history, delivering the first major upset of the 2023 World Cup by overpowering England’s reigning champions with a commanding 69-run victory in a masterclass of spin and seam bowling under the floodlights in Delhi.
The stage for their dominance was set by the fearless power-hitting 21-year-old Rahmanullah Gurbaz, whose explosive innings of 80 runs from 57 balls held the promise of even more until a run-out abruptly halted his momentum.
However, Afghanistan’s lower order, led by Ikram Alikhil, stepped up with a crucial half-century on his World Cup debut. This collective effort made England’s target of 285 seem as distant as the defending champions’ aspirations of retaining their title.
Opting to chase after winning the toss, England likely anticipated an easy second half, mirroring New Zealand’s confident pursuit of 283 in the tournament opener.
However, Afghanistan shattered those assumptions with a remarkably aggressive powerplay, showcasing the prowess of their bowlers, including Fazalhaq Farooqi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, right from the beginning of England’s innings.
Jos Buttler’s decision to bat second, influenced by the expectation that the ball would skid under the floodlights, backfired as the evening conditions accentuated the natural skills of Afghanistan’s bowlers. Farooqi’s initial delivery raised eyebrows in the England dressing room a wicked full-length inswinger from his zippy left-arm line that pinned Jonny Bairstow on the crease.
The subsequent justified on-field verdict from Rod Tucker, reinforced by a width DRS decision, saw Bairstow depart with a stinkeye, setting the tone for England’s challenging innings.
England’s second victim in the powerplay needed no second-guessing: Joe Root fell victim to Mujeeb’s front-of-the-hand slider, bowled for 11 from 17 yet another significant powerplay failure for England’s struggling linchpin, as the ball kept low, rattling middle and off.
Dawid Malan, once again, stood out as the most composed batter, singlehandedly navigating England through the powerplay with his 32 from 39 balls. However, Mohammad Nabi, celebrating his 150th ODI out of a possible 156 for his country, was ready to pounce as the fielding restrictions lifted.
Nabi’s fourth ball was a moment of offspinning brilliance a flighted, dipping delivery that lured Malan into thinking his fifth boundary was imminent, only for Ibrahim Zadran to spring the trap at short cover. At 68 for 3 in the 13th over, alarm bells were ringing for England.
Despite Jos Buttler’s recent exhortation to “attack,” he could not practice what he had preached in challenging circumstances. His only aggressive shot was a bullet drive through the covers as Afghanistan’s main threat, Rashid Khan, entered the attack in the 17th over.
However, Naveen-ul-Haq’s fiercely flicked seamers unsettled him, leading to a conviction-lacking drive through a booming inswinger, resulting in his stumps being dismantled for 9 from 18.
England’s diffidence thereafter was evident. Liam Livingstone appeared unsettled in his 10 from 14, eventually succumbing to Rashid after planting his front foot down the line, burning a futile review in the process.
Sam Curran seemed focused on holding up an end while Harry Brook fought for a half-century, including a few exquisite drives down the ground. In the 31st over, England managed their first and only six of the innings, a stark contrast to the previous World Cup meeting where Afghanistan had launched eight.
With Curran on 10 from 23 balls, Nabi, armed with a slip, returned to collect another left-hander. Curran poked limply at a dipping off-break, fencing low to Rahmat Shah.
It was only when the result was a foregone conclusion that England broke out of their defeatist mindset, with Reece Topley’s three consecutive fours off Farooqi proving to be among the cleanest strikes in an otherwise flat-lining display.
The victory was undeniably crushing by any measure, but the disparity between Afghanistan’s aggressive mindset and England’s confused approach was even more pronounced than the final result suggested.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz’s mini-masterpiece set the tone for his team. Confronted with a pitch that had witnessed South Africa’s batters amass three centuries in a record-breaking 428 for 5 the previous week, Gurbaz seized the initiative.
Particularly targeting Chris Woakes, who epitomized England’s uncertain start to their title defense with a timid new-ball spell, Gurbaz wasted no time in exploiting this perceived weakness.
Woakes’ first delivery of the match was a wild sighter that raced away for five wides through Jos Buttler’s legs. Afghanistan, sensing vulnerability, intensified its assault on this visible weak link in England’s attack.
In Woakes’ second over, Gurbaz’s premeditated aggression prompted Woakes to shorten his length, only for Gurbaz to respond with a brutal pull over deep square-leg for six.
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Two more fours ensued in Woakes’ next over, as Gurbaz exploited the inability to land his cutters. While Reece Topley at the other end proved more economical with his high-kicking left-arm seam, Gurbaz demonstrated unwavering confidence in the true nature of the pitch. Twice, he ruthlessly dispatched offerings of width with savage cuts.
Sam Curran replaced Woakes, but Gurbaz continued his assault. Curran’s second over disappeared for 20 runs, with two more fours and a powerful six over midwicket, concluding Afghanistan’s powerplay at an imposing 79 for 0.
Gurbaz reached his fifty from 33 balls, the fourth fastest in the tournament at that point, with a calculated sweep for four off Adil Rashid’s second delivery.
England’s troubles ran deep as they sought improvement. Mark Wood showcased his pace, but a misdirected bouncer resulted in Gurbaz effortlessly flicking it up and over deep third with a wristy shot, securing his fourth six arguably the best of the lot. Gurbaz displayed finesse with an effortless pick-up over deep midwicket as Adil Rashid looped a leg break into his hitting arc.
Concerns deepened for England when the injury-prone Reece Topley jarred his knee while attempting to cut off another pull through fine leg, limping off for treatment. The anxiety in the England camp and for his father Don, seated in the stands, was evident.
Topley returned, but it seemed Afghanistan’s innings had imploded in a familiar about of self-destruction. After facing a maiden against Rashid, Ibrahim Zadran picked out Joe Root with a head-high clip to midwicket. Before settling in, Rahmat was lured out of his crease in Rashid’s next over, smartly stumped by Buttler for 3 from eight balls. Then came the catastrophe.
Hashmatullah Shahidi nudged his first ball to midwicket and embarked on an unthinking single, leaving Gurbaz barely in the frame as the throw came in. Gurbaz walked off the pitch, infuriated with himself and his captain, expressing his frustration by smashing his bat on the boundary marker and a passing chair.
He knew those blows should have been directed at England’s bowlers instead.
Despite Afghanistan’s struggle to regroup, the seeds of England’s downfall were evident. Liam Livingstone played an excellent mid-innings holding role, completing a full ten-over spell for the first time in his ODI career. Root, with his off-breaks, proved challenging as he bowled Shahidi for a subdued 14 from 36.
At 174 for 5, Afghanistan refused to surrender despite their awkward scoreline. Ikram Alikhil anchored the tail as Rashid and Mujeeb extracted what they could from England’s bowling. In Curran’s final over, which saw two fours and a free-hit six, he and Woakes leaked a combined figure of 8-0-87-0.
Ultimately, these were the margins that proved insurmountable, as Afghanistan fulfilled their pre-match promise to bring “joy” to their country after last week’s earthquake. They couldn’t have delivered more.