England captain Eoin Morgan rewrote the record books on Tuesday, clobbering 17 sixes, the most in a one-day international innings, in a blistering century as England crushed Afghanistan by 150 runs in a World Cup match at Old Trafford.
Morgan smashed a career-best 148, with 118 coming from sixes and fours, off 71 balls to power England to 397-6, their highest World Cup total. Even the presence of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in the stands could not inspire Gulbadin Naib’s men who managed 247-8 before succumbing to their fifth defeat in five matches.
Hashmatullah Shahidi, Asghar Afghan and Rahmat Shah helped Afghanistan to their highest total in the World Cup but they stay rooted to the bottom of the points table, which England now head after their fourth victory.
Morgan, dropped on 28, dominated a third-wicket stand of 189 with Joe Root, whose contribution to their partnership was a mere 43. Afghanistan star leg-spinner Rashid Khan set an unwanted record with 0-110 in nine overs – the most expensive return at a World Cup and second costliest in all ODI cricket.
Morgan’s tally surpassed the record of 16 sixes in an ODI innings previously shared by India’s Rohit Sharma, South Africa’s AB de Villiers and West Indies’ Chris Gayle. But one ball after launching Gulbadin Naib for the record-breaking six, Morgan holed out off the Afghanistan captain to end a 71-ball innings that also featured four fours.
His innings, which featured 118 runs in boundaries, was all the more impressive as Morgan had been doubtful for this match with a back spasm suffered in England’s eight-wicket win over the West Indies, in which he could not bat.
Jonny Bairstow got England off to a solid start after Morgan won the toss, with the home side accelerating after James Vince fell for 26 when he mishooked paceman Dawlat Zadran to short fine-leg. Rank-outsiders Afghanistan, yet to win a game at this tournament, did not help themselves with some woeful outfielding.
Bairstow was untroubled until, and in sight of his eighth ODI century, he chipped a return catch to Naib. A visibly annoyed Bairstow walked off having been in command during a 99-ball innings that featured eight fours and three sixes.
Morgan settled in quickly, hitting Naib for two sixes including a fine hit over long-on. But the left-hander should have been out when he skied Rashid Khan only for Dawlat Zadran at deep midwicket to make such a mess of the catch that the ball bounced out of his hands and over the rope for four.
It was a costly error, with Morgan immediately hitting a soaring six. He cleared the boundary again in a 36th over that cost 18 runs. Morgan then went to fifty with his fifth six in 36 balls faced when he pulled off-spinner Mohammad Nabi high into an 8,000-capacity temporary stand.
Root was denied a second successive hundred and third of the tournament when he holed out off Gulbadin, whose three for 68 was not a bad return in the circumstances. But the sixes kept coming, with Moeen Ali setting a new team record when he launched the penultimate delivery of the innings, from Zadran, over long-on.