Cricket World Cup 2019: England's Eoin Morgan happy to prove age just a number after record-breaking knock
Captain surprises himself by hitting 17 sixes to make career-best 148 in 150-run victory against hapless Afghanistan
Eoin Morgan started the day running gingerly through a late fitness test on his injured back. He ended it with a world-record number of sixes in a one-day international as he led England to a 150-run demolition of Afghanistan in the Cricket World Cup at Old Trafford.
The England captain struck 17 sixes in making a career-best 148 during his 71-ball onslaught. That is the most ever recorded in an individual innings out of 4,163 ODIs, leapfrogging the previous record of 16 held jointly by Chris Gayle, Rohit Sharma, and AB de Villiers.
Morgan’s salvo made a joke of a couple of things. Firstly, his participation in the fixture had been in doubt up until the morning of the game, after he has suffered a back spasm in the win over West Indies last time out.
Secondly, when he entered the fray in the 30th over, England were handsomely set at 164-2. Many observers might have expected Morgan to promote Jos Buttler up the order at that point, as has often been the case in similar situations in the past, and given his vice-captain licence to thrill.
Instead, it was the captain himself who wowed the crowds with a phenomenal display of power-hitting, as he registered the fourth-fastest century in World Cup history – reaching three figures in 57 balls.
“I’m getting quite old, have been hobbling around with a bad back, and you never think you can produce an innings like that,” Morgan said, after being handed the player of the match award.
“In our changing room, we have a few guys who can produce innings similar to that. I never thought in my wildest dreams I could do something like that.
“It makes it a bit more special when I can compete with the youngsters in the side. It started out as a tough game. Afghanistan are a side with a lot of potential, and a completely different challenge with all their spinners.
“And it is the World Cup. We are absolutely loving playing in the World Cup.”
The Dublin-born batsman was particularly savage on Rashid Khan. The Afghanistan leg-spinner may be the highest-ranked spin bowling in ODI cricket at present, but he had no answer to Morgan’s assault.
Rashid started off well enough, with figures of 0-9 off his first two overs. By the end of it, though, he had haemorrhaged 110 off just nine overs, the most expensive analysis in World Cup history, and the second most in any ODI.
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Morgan’s personal tournament haul of 22 sixes is now better than all the teams in the competition, other than his own England side, West Indies and Australia.
His knock made a task that was always likely to be tough for an Afghanistan that had lost all four of their previous matches, and is riven by a variety of off-field issues, all-but impossible.
There was plenty of decoration around the Morgan centrepiece, too. Jonny Bairstow laid the platform with 90, and was furious when he was out caught and bowled to Gulbadin Naib, the Afghanistan captain.
Joe Root extended his fine run of form, adding 88 to his two previous centuries in the competition. After five matches, his haul of 367 runs leaves him second in the World Cup run charts, behind Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan, who has 384.
And Moeen Ali compounded Afghanistan’s late-over woe with 31 not out from just nine balls, as England reached 397-6 from their 50 overs.
Afghanistan were defeated before they even went back out to bat, but at least Hashmatullah Shahidi provided some resistance. The left-hander was helmet by Mark Wood early in his innings, but battled on to make 76, out of the Afghan total of 247-8.
Updated: June 19, 2019 04:44 PM