Afghanistan produced the first shock of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 when they beat defending champions England by 69 runs on Sunday at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi.
Holders England crumbled for 215 runs in front of Afghanistan’s trio of spinners after winning the toss and asking Afghanistan to bat first.
The underdogs set England a target of 285 runs, thanks to a blistering knock of 80 runs off 57 balls from opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz and a half-century from wicketkeeper Ikram Alikhil.
Gurbaz brought up his fifty rapidly, but they lost wickets as leg-spinner Adil Rashid (3-42) dismissed Zadran and had Rahmat Shah stumped in his next over.
Gurbaz looked well set for a World Cup century having smashed eight fours and four sixes, but the 21-year-old was run out by substitute David Willey at midwicket when skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi called him for a risky run.
Gurbaz was livid as he trudged off, smashing his bat on the boundary rope on his way back to the pavilion.
Spinners Rashid Khan (23) and Mujeeb Ur Rahman (28) contributed in a lower-order flourish that saw Afghanistan put up a competitive total and allow their bowlers to go all-out against the England batters.
Boasting a powerful batting lineup, England were handed an early loss when left-arm pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi dismissed opener Jonny Bairstow in the second over.
From then on, Afghanistan’s spinners took over as off spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman bowled out Joe Root for 11 runs and Mohammad Nabi dismissed Dawid Malan for 32.
England captain Jos Buttler was dimissed for nine runs by pace bowler Naveen-ul-Haq.
Star leg spinner Rashid Khan added to England’s woes by dismissing Liam Livingstone and Adil Rashid.
Harry Brook put up a resistance with his 66-run innings, but fell to Mujeeb Ur Rahman in the 35th over to send England reeling at 169-8.
Mujeeb he picked up the player of the match award.
“Very proud moment to be here in the World Cup and beating the champions, it’s a great achievement for the whole region. I’m so happy with this performance,” Mujeeb said.
“As spinners it’s hard to bowl in the powerplay, but I’ve been working in the nets to be as consistent as possible… We knew dew would be a factor.”
Rashid said he hoped the victory would put a smile on the faces of people back in Afghanistan, where multiple earthquakes have killed around 1,000 and injured over 2,000.
England lost the tournament’s opening match against New Zealand by nine wickets, but beat Bangladesh by 137 runs. Their captain Buttler said it was “a tough loss to take” but congratulated Afghanistan.
“They outplayed us today. We were not at the level we wanted to be with the ball and the bat,” Buttler said.
“Afghanistan have a really skilful attack… They put us under a lot of pressure.”
England are fifth in the group standings with one win from three matches, one place ahead of Afghanistan.
Afghanistan suffered heavy losses in both their matches, as they lost to Bangladesh by six wickets and then to hosts India by eight wickets.
Afghanistan came into the match having lost 16 of their last 17 World Cup games, their only victory coming against Scotland in 2015.