Afghanistan stun England in biggest upset of Cricket World Cup 2023

Spinners Mujeeb and Rashid pick up three wickets each in 69-run win in Delhi

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Afghanistan pulled off the biggest upset of the 2023 World Cup as they defeated defending champions England in Delhi on Sunday.

On a good batting surface, the Afghans posed a challenging target of 285. It seemed gettable but the surface in India’s capital was offering some assistance to slow bowlers. That was all that the Afghans needed as their spinners ripped through England’s batting to complete a 69-run win.

Mujeeb Ur Rahman (3-51), Mohammad Nabi (2-16) and Rashid Khan (3-37) put on a masterful display to choke the runs as they got turn and bite off the surface.

Only Harry Brook looked comfortable as he waged a lone battle, making 66, but could not stop England from slipping to one of the most shocking defeats in their ODI history.

Brook was the last recognised batsman out with 116 more runs needed for victory a little over 15 overs and three wickets remaining, as he edged Mujeeb behind while attempting a single off a carom ball.

England were in trouble early on as left-arm seamer Fazalhaq Farooqi got late swing, trapping Jonny Bairstow lbw. He could have had a few more as Dawid Malan and Joe Root played and missed a number of times.

But it was clear there was enough in the pitch to keep the Afghanistan interested. Mujeeb got into the act as he deceived Root to rattle the stumps while the experienced Nabi beat Malan with flight and dip to spoon a simple catch to short cover.

England had slipped to 68-3 and from there, the slide quickened and never stopped.

England's lower order put up a fight to take the total past 200 but Afghanistan were well ahead in the game. Rashid sparked wild celebrations as he castled Mark Wood to end England's innings on 215 in the 41st over.

Earlier, Afghanistan made the most of good batting conditions to post 284 at the Arun Jaitely Stadium.

A blistering knock of 80 from opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz had raised hopes of a massive first innings score, with the Afghans racing to 111 for no loss for 16 overs.

Gurbaz attacked the fast bowlers and brought up his fifty in no time, but Afghanistan lost wickets after Adil Rashid (3-42) came on as the spinner. He first dismissed Zadran (28) and then had Rahmat Shah stumped in his next over.

Gurbaz looked well set for a century having smashed eight fours and four sixes. But the 21-year-old was run out by substitute David Willey at midwicket when captain Hashmatullah Shahidi called him for a risky run.

Afghanistan’s wickets fell at regular intervals, with part-time spinners Root and Liam Livingstone applying pressure and bowling 14 frugal overs between them.

That changed when Ikram Alikhil and Rashid Khan steadied the ship with a 43-run stand.

Alikhil eventually departed for 58 while Mujeeb also made a quickfire 28 off 16 before England got Afghanistan all out in the penultimate ball of the final over when Jos Buttler ran out Naveen-ul-Haq.

The total was Afghanistan's second highest at a World Cup after they scored 288 against the West Indies in 2019.

After the match, England captain Jos Buttler admitted the Afghans had outplayed then in all departments.

"It was disappointing, having won the toss and elected to bowl. Congratulations to Afghanistan, they outplayed us today," Buttler said.

"It was a bit of bad execution, both with the bat and the ball. It was not at the level we wanted it to be consistently enough. That was the area where we lost the game."

Afghanistan's star Mujeeb, who picked up three wickets to go with his quick 28, dedicated the win to the victims of the earthquake in Afghanistan.

"Very proud moment to be here at the World Cup and beating the champions. Great achievement for the whole team. I want to dedicate this award to the people back home, who have been affected by the earthquake," he said.

Updated: October 15, 2023, 4:37 PM