Morgan, England set records in World Cup win over Afghans
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Eoin Morgan came out swinging in an innings that started with an awkward-looking tangle involving his opposing captain, and ended with a world-record clutter of sixes.
The England captain's 148 from 71 balls against Afghanistan on Tuesday contained 17 sixes and launched the home team to 397-6, the sixth-highest total at a Cricket World Cup and the biggest so far of this tournament.
"Getting quite old, hobbling around with a bad back, you never think you're going to produce an innings like that," the 32-year-old Morgan joked as he collected the player of the match award. "I never thought in my wildest dreams I could produce an innings like that."
Moeen Ali ensured a team record for a one-day international, too. He cleared the boundary four times in an unbeaten, nine-ball 31 to improve England's mark by to a world record 25 sixes.
The game between the highest- and lowest-ranked teams was barely a contest, with Afghanistan finishing 247-8 to slump to its fifth consecutive defeat.
England moved to the top of the standings on eight points, ahead of defending champion Australia on net run-rate.
Morgan went to the crease in the 30th over at 164-2 and raised the total to 359 before his explosive innings ended when he was caught on the boundary in the 47th over.
A doubtful starter at Old Trafford because of back spasms in England's previous game, Morgan was barely an over into his innings when he got an inside edge to Afghanistan skipper Gulbadin Naib and shaped to run for a single. He dropped his bat in a collision with Gulbadin as he turned to get back to safety.
Morgan's discomfort was fleeting, though, as he belted Gulbadin's next two legitimate deliveries for six over deep mid-wicket and long-on.
It really set the tone. He had one reprieve, when he pulled a Rashid Khan delivery to deep midwicket and Dawlat Zadran got one hand to the ball but dropped the catch.
It said he took that as the signal to unleash, and hit two sixes in that over. Morgan raised his half-century from 36 balls and reached his 13th ODI century from 57, the fourth-fastest hundred ever at a World Cup.
Morgan beat the ODI record ark of 16 sixes in an innings — shared by Chris Gayle, Rohit Sharma and AB de Villiers — when he flat-batted Gulbadin straight down the ground. After a pause for a TV official to check, umpire Paul Reiffel raised both arms to signal Morgan's record 17th.
He tried to go one better on the next ball but was caught in the deep, giving Gulbadin a third wicket and eventual figures of 3-68 from 10 overs — Afghanistan's best return of the game.
Gulbadin said dropping Morgan on 28 swung the game, although his team would take some positives out of the first 30 overs, and the batting.
"We miss one catch of Morgan, so maybe our game, we lost from there," he said. "Credit goes to Morgan, especially, for his batting. He showed his class — I've never seen this kind of level."
Afghanistan's total beat its 232 against Sri Lanka in Dunedin four years ago as a World Cup high. It included a belligerent 76 from Hashmattullah Shahidi, who was felled after ducking into a short ball from Mark Wood that hit his helmet in the 30th over.
He recovered to share a national World Cup record partnership of 94 with Asghar Afghan (44). Jofra Archer and Adil Rashid each took three wickets for England.
Morgan dominated a 189-run third-wicket partnership with Joe Root, who was 45 when his skipper arrived at the crease and was eventually out for 88.
He took 22 off one over against Rashid and generally dismantled Afghanistan's best bowler, who conceded the worst ever figures in a World Cup game of 9-0-110-0.
England had injury concerns coming into the week, with Morgan and opener Jason Roy leaving the field last Friday in the eight-wicket win over West Indies. Roy has been ruled out for two games with torn muscle in his left hamstring.
Roy's replacement, James Vince, scored 26 in a 44-run opening stand with Jonny Bairstow, who contributed 90 from 99 balls in a 120-run second-wicket stand with Root.
England's confidence is high with four wins and a loss going into Friday's game at Sri Lanka at Leeds. Winless Afghanistan is unlikely to get any reprieve, with No. 2-ranked India up next on Saturday.