• 16 October 2023
  • Ana Gems
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In a clear display of their aggressive intent, Afghanistan showcased an attacking style of batting as Rahmanullah Gurbaz shifted into slogging mode.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran (28) formed a formidable opening partnership, swiftly accumulating 114 runs off a mere 100 balls. They sprinted past the 50-run milestone in just 39 deliveries, with the run rate surging with each passing over.

While Zadran contributed with three well-placed boundaries, it was Gurbaz who inflicted substantial damage, achieving a rapid 50 from a mere 33 balls.

England managed to break through in the 17th over when Rashid Khan dismissed Zadran, initiating a mini-collapse. A couple of overs later, Rahmat Shah was stumped off Rashid’s bowling after contributing just three runs. In an unfortunate mix-up with skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi, Gurbaz was run out a ball later, leaving him visibly frustrated.

To complement Rashid’s efforts, England turned to their part-time bowlers, with Joe Root and Liam Livingstone taking the ball. Root claimed the wicket of Shahidi, dismissing him for 14 runs, while Livingstone removed Azmatullah Omarzai for 19.

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Afghanistan’s batting vulnerabilities came to the fore as they stumbled to 174-5 in 32.1 overs, losing five wickets for just 60 runs.

Making his World Cup debut, Ikram Alikhil stepped up as the savior for Afghanistan, displaying a gritty performance with 58 runs off 66 deliveries, featuring three fours and two sixes. He received late support from Rashid Khan (23) and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, enabling Afghanistan to push their total beyond the 250-run mark. This set a score that helped them end a nine-match losing streak in World Cups.

Jos Buttler, England’s captain, expressed disappointment and conceded that Afghanistan fully deserved their well-earned victory. England’s history in the World Cup includes several unexpected losses, including a defeat to Zimbabwe in 1992 when they were bowled out for just 125 runs. Another notable loss was against Ireland in 2011, marked by Kevin O’Brien’s record-setting century that led Ireland to a remarkable three-wicket win.

Afghanistan’s next challenge awaits them as they face New Zealand in Chennai on Wednesday, while England is set to encounter South Africa in Mumbai on Saturday.

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The excitement of the tournament continues on Monday with the match between Australia and Sri Lanka in Lucknow.