Afghanistan reached their second-highest World Cup total in Delhi on Sunday, October 15, capping an incredible batting effort against England. Liam Livingstone (1-33), Joe Root (1-19), and Adil Rashid (3–42) all had a significant role in this. On a harder hitting surface, the score on this occasion looked set to be more than 325 at one point, but England’s spinners steadied the ship throughout the innings.
Similar to previous games held there, the Arun Jaitley Stadium provided an excellent batting surface. This, together with one side’s short boundary, made it as tough as possible to hit boundaries and score runs. Afghanistan scored 79 runs in the first 10 overs of the Powerplay thanks to Rahmanullah Gurbaz’s masterful use of the conditions. While Ibrahim Zadran was not particularly aggressive or fluent, the pair’s century partnership early in the game put pressure on England’s bowlers. Jos Buttler kept spinning.
According to data from the host broadcaster, there was more spin at the venue in today’s game than in the previous two. Not enough to really injure the batters, just enough to keep the tweakers in the game. After a very expensive opening over for his innings, Rashid got into a rhythm fast and ended the opening stand for a century by having Zadran caught at short mid-wicket. In the next 13 deliveries, England claimed two more crucial wickets, providing them with much-needed momentum.
Buttler drew a clean line with his leg to temporarily push Rahmat Shah from the crease. The biggest blow came when Gurbaz took part in an appalling run-out, which captain Hashmatullah Shahidi started. The tweakers were making it difficult for the batters to keep up with Mark Wood’s increased speed, and the innings had completely collapsed. England’s disciplined spinners forced Afghanistan’s batsmen to hit false blows. Afghanistan’s score dropped from 114/0 to 190/6, making the outcome even more dismal.
However, despite the strain, teenager Ikram Alikhil scored an incredible fifty runs in his opening World Cup match. He showed remarkable promise and was chosen to start instead of the injured Najibullah Zadran since he was unaffected by pace or spin. Along with Rashid Khan and Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, the left-hander made significant blocks to push the score beyond reasonable expectations. However, England finished a little loose and committed a few delivery errors. There was nothing memorable about the vacation with Sam Curran.
Afghanistan performed well because of the bottom order fightback; yet, given the current circumstances and the impending dew factor, the score seems below average.
Afghanistan 284 in 49.5 overs (Rahmanullah Gurbaz 80, Ikram Alikhil 58; Adil Rashid 3-42, Joe Root 1-19) vs England