EOIN MORGAN unleashed a furious, record-breaking assault as England overpowered Afghanistan by 150 runs at Old Trafford, hitting 17 sixes as his side took over top spot in the World Cup standings.
The England captain was a pre-match injury doubt having been laid low by a painful back spasm but proved himself more than fit for purpose as he hammered his way into the history books with a merciless knock of 148 in just 71 balls.
Morgan broke new ground when he cleared the ropes for the final time – Chris Gayle, AB De Villiers and Rohit Sharma having all hit 16 in a one-day innings – leaving England on course for their highest ever World Cup total, 397-6.
Watch Eoin Morgan’s Sixes
It was an astonishing display from the Dubliner, who was agonisingly dropped on 28 by Dawlat Zadran, and enough to make window dressing out of Jonny Bairstow’s 90 and Joe Root’s 88.
Afghanistan batted admirably in response without ever threatening, leaving them on five consecutive defeats and allowing England to leapfrog Australia on net run-rate.
“Never, never have I ever thought I could play a knock like that. I’m delighted that I have,” Morgan said at a press conference after his career-best 148 earned him the man-of-the-match award.
“I think coming in at the time where it was a 50-50 shout whether myself or Jos (Buttler) went in probably helped that, because after I faced a few balls, I had no choice.
“I had to start taking risks because of him coming in next, and then after I got dropped, it was a matter of just keep going. Yeah, one of those days.” Morgan was on 28 when Dawlat Zadran dropped him in the deep, a mistake Afghanistan were left to rue as the southpaw tore into them during his 71-ball blitzkrieg.
“We were on target for 280, 290, maybe 300,” Morgan said.
On paper the fixture was the biggest mismatch of the tournament – 10th against first in the world rankings – and the final margin reflected that gulf.
What nobody predicted was the fate of master spinner Rashid Khan, who returned ghoulish figures of 9-0-110-0, the worst in the competition’s 44-year history and just three shy of Mick Lewis’s all-time ODI nadir.
Afghanistan batted on gamely to 247-8, their best World Cup score but nowhere near enough to challenge.
33 Sixes were hit yesterday
33 sixes were hit in #ENGvAFG – a @cricketworldcup record – and @bira91 is bringing you all of them!— ICC (@ICC) June 19, 2019
First off, here's Eoin Morgan's contribution – the England skipper hit 17 maximums on his way to 148 👏 👏 👏 pic.twitter.com/rvKknReHhb