Afghanistan delivered a stunning performance on Sunday, beating the reigning Cricket World Cup champions, England, by 69 runs in New Delhi.
The surprise attached to the Afghanis victory is highlighted by the odds pre-game, which had them at $4.50 to defeat England, who were as short as $1.08 with some cricket betting sites.
England fell short in their chase of a 285-run target set by Afghanistan, with opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz scoring a fiery 80 to give the sub-continent team a chance.
Despite Harry Brook’s contribution of 66, England succumbed to Afghanistan’s spin attack, with Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan taking three wickets apiece.
“It’s a very proud moment to be here in the World Cup beating the last champions,” Mujeeb said.
This win marks only the second Cricket World Cup victory for Afghanistan, their previous win being against Scotland in 2015. Despite losing their first two matches in India and a continued 14-game losing streak in the World Cup, the team showed resilience.
Gurbaz, along with Ikram Alikhil, who scored 58, set a challenging target for England. The Afghan bowlers then dismantled England’s batting line-up consistently.
“Congratulations to Afghanistan, they outplayed us today,” England captain Jos Buttler said.
England’s innings had notable setbacks with key players like Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, and Dawid Malan dismissed early. Their chase slowed down significantly, with over eight overs passing without a boundary until Brook hit the only six for England. Mujeeb’s key wicket of Brook left England at a vulnerable 169-8.
While late efforts from Adil Rashid, Reece Topley, and Mark Wood pushed England past 200, it wasn’t enough.
In the first innings, Gurbaz’s swift 57-ball innings was the highlight, but his dismissal due to a run-out mix-up left him visibly frustrated. Adil Rashid managed to rein in Afghanistan’s momentum temporarily, but the team finished strong with significant contributions from Alikhil and Mujeeb.
While England’s game fluctuated with a win over Bangladesh and a loss to New Zealand, Afghanistan had faced defeats from both Bangladesh and India before this surprising victory.
The Cricket World Cup continues on Monday night, with Australia set to clash with Sri Lanka, in a match they must win to keep their World Cup hopes alive.
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