Afghanistan stun England at Arun Jaitley Stadium

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  • Post published:October 15, 2023

England suffered a shock 69 runs defeat at the hands of Afghanistan in their Cricket World Cup clash at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi.

England’s chances are not over after their first loss to Afghanistan in any format, but they have little room for error in their final six group stage games.

England’s batters succumbed under the lights after a lacklustre bowling performance allowed Afghanistan to reach 284 all out.

Jonny Bairstow was caught behind by left-armer Fazalhaq Farooqi in the second over, Joe Root was bowled for 11 by Mujeeb Ur Rahman, and Dawid Malan chipped to extra cover.

Only Harry Brook (66) provided any resistance; captain Jos Buttler was the fourth to go, bowled cleanly by seamer Naveen-ul-Haq.

England’s erratic seamers had earlier given Afghanistan a 100-0 lead after 13 overs, with opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz smashing 80 off 57 balls.

Adil Rashid regained some control with 3-42, but more loose bowling at the death, along with 58 from Ikram Alikhil, propelled Afghanistan to a respectable total.

This is only Afghanistan’s second victory in a 50-over World Cup, and their fans celebrated wildly.

England, who are attempting to defend the title they won four years ago, have now lost two of their first three games and face an in-form South Africa on Saturday in Mumbai.

England lost three times in the group stage before winning the championship in 2019. They are not yet at the must-win stage, but with tough matches against hosts India, Pakistan, Australia, and the Proteas on the horizon, their backs are firmly against the wall.

This defeat was similar to their loss to New Zealand on the first day. They were poor with the ball and, with the exception of Brook, hardly laid a glove on their opponents with the bat.

Afghanistan’s bowlers posed a far more serious threat.

Bairstow was furious with his decision – replays showed the lbw shout was an umpire’s call on impact and leg stump – but it came after England’s seamers had been toothless.

The spinners then took control, including T20 superstar Rashid Khan, who had Liam Livingstone lbw 10 and took the match-winning wicket by bowling Mark Wood.

Mujeeb perplexed Chris Woakes for an over, having a lbw decision overturned before bowling him, before Brook was caught behind in the 22-year-old’s next over, effectively ending the contest.

England no longer has a choice. They must improve quickly or their reign as world champions in the 50-over category will come to an end.

England’s poor start allowed Afghanistan to score 79 runs in the first 10 overs, the most expensive powerplay in the tournament’s first innings so far.

Gurbaz bowled well, but Woakes and Sam Curran, who replaced him after three overs for 30 runs, provided far too much width.

Woakes gave up 41 runs in four wicketless overs. Curran’s four figures were 0-46.

Only Reece Topley provided control early on, but he was also responsible for four of England’s 14 wides and no-balls later on.

Rashid appeared to have dragged England back in between. After the first drinks break, he bowled a maiden and then had opener Ibrahim Zadran caught at mid-wicket and Rahmat Shah stumped in the space of seven balls.

Gurbaz was then run out by his captain, Hashmatullah Shahidi, giving Liam Livingstone and Joe Root a wicket each to help Rashid turn the screw.

Nonetheless, Curran’s 46th over cost 18 runs and gave Afghanistan momentum that England was unable to reverse.