How Afghanistan broke a 14-match losing streak to shock England and become the biggest ICC World Cup upset ever

Afghanistan’s victory over Scotland in their first World Cup appearance in 2015 was their only other World Cup victory to date. England is experiencing 2015 all over again after suffering what may have been the biggest World Cup upset in tournament history. In order to pull off an utter bombshell and score a huge 69-run victory that would live on in their cricketing mythology forever, Afghanistan pushed above their weight.

The shocker at Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium is the biggest for England since Bangladesh eliminated them from the 2015 tournament, or since Ireland stunned them in 2011 when Jos Buttler and his team were dealt a cruel reminder of their previous troubles. After the excitement of the eagerly anticipated India-Pakistan encounter in Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium, Afghanistan forced cricket’s attention to turn to Delhi as they made history on an apparently peaceful Sunday evening.

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Since their first World Cup debut in 2015, when they defeated Scotland in Dunedin by one wicket, this was Afghanistan’s only other World Cup victory. Afghanistan have managed to end their 14-match losing streak with their biggest-ever win in international cricket, let alone this format, to end their memorable winless run that began with losses to Bangladesh and India in the 2023 World Cup.

Afghanistan post record 284 on the back of Gurbaz’s heroics

When Afghanistan was given the opportunity to bat first after Buttler won the toss, they made a great showing. Openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran, who had struggled in the previous two games, put together a 114-run opening stand before scoring at an astonishing rate of eight runs per over during the first powerplay.

Gurbaz faced the fast bowlers head-on and scored a furious half-century, but after Adil Rashid (3/42) came on, Afghanistan lost wickets in a swift top-order collapse. The 17th over saw England achieve their first victory when Rashid removed Zadran (28) and then had Rahmat Shah stumped in his next over. Despite the fact that Gurbaz seemed unstoppable even against the leggie, sweeping him for boundaries as Afghanistan surged to 100 runs in just 76 balls, England experienced their first victory.

With eight boundaries and four maximums, Gurbaz appeared to be on track for a World Cup century. However, the 21-year-old was left absolutely upset after being run out by replacement David Willey at midwicket when captain Shahidi asked him for an unnecessary single. After being out for 80 runs, Gurbaz was furious and stomped off, slamming his bat against the boundary rope and a chair on the way back to the pavilion.

Before Afghanistan was eventually kept steady by a steady 43-run stand between Ikram Alikhil and Rashid Khan, it appeared that another collapse was taking place. Rashid, though, was the victim of a magnificent fielding play by Joe Root at the boundary, which put an end to the partnership. Alikhil was finally bowled for 58, but Mujeeb Ur Rahman also produced a quickfire 28 off 16 before Jos Buttler ran out Naveen-ul-Haq to seal England’s victory over Afghanistan on the penultimate ball of the final over. After 288 against the West Indies in 2019, Afghanistan’s 284 was their second-highest score in a World Cup game.

Tendulkar lays bare reason for England’s ‘downfall’

On Sunday, October 15, England lost to Afghanistan in the ICC Cricket World Cup in Delhi due to their pattern of losing matches against underdog teams in World Cup competitions, whether they were T20 or ODI matches. The spin three of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman, and Mohammad Nabi from Afghanistan upset what appeared to be a formality as England hitters struggled on a surface in Delhi that had something for everyone after Afghanistan scored a 284-run total.

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When analyzing England’s loss, Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar opined that a crucial factor in the outcome of the game was the batters’ inability to read the spinners from hand. “Afghanistan put in a fantastic all-around effort, with @RGurbaz_21’s good knock serving as the catalyst. @ECB_cricket had a bad day. The England hitters failed to read quality spinners from their hands, which is a requirement when facing them. Instead, they were read off the field, which I believe contributed to their demise. I adored the vigour they displayed on the field. Well played @ACBofficials!” Tendulkar posted on X, then known as Twitter.

Virender Sehwag, Tendulkar’s former opening partner, disagreed, saying that both England and Australia do not appear to be World Cup-winning teams and will have difficulty reaching the semifinals. “Looks like Eng and Aus are going to struggle to reach the top 4. #ENGvsAFG,” Sehwag posted. 

Even though England still has six games remaining, they will need to put up a tremendous amount of effort to turn things around given how dire the situation appears to be for the defending champions.

England burns to the ground

Mustafizur Rahman of Bangladesh may have made a small error in his execution the other day, but Fazalhaq Farooqi, another left-armer, carried out the strategy flawlessly against Jonny Bairstow (2) on Saturday. He got the ball to swing downleg on his opening pitch of the inning, trapping Jonny Bairstow in front as he lost his balance. After a few overs, Mujeeb threw a flipper to dismiss the best batsman in the England lineup, and Root (11) paid the price for playing the fuller delivery on his back foot. On 32, Mohammad Nabi put a stop to Dawid Malan’s defiance.

The defending champions lost half of their team after Buttler was defeated by an in-dipper from Naveen and Liam Livingstone burned a review after being caught in the middle by a googly from Rashid. The only constant during the majority of England’s middle-of-the-battle fight was Harry Brook. The 24-year-old, who was a last-minute addition to the World Cup squad, scored his second fifty of his career to offer England some hope after never going past 25 in his previous eight innings.

After Buttler was defeated by an in-dipper from Naveen and Liam Livingstone burned a review after being trapped in the middle by a googly from Rashid, the defending champions lost half of their team. Harry Brook remained the lone constant during most of England’s battle in the middle of the conflict. After never going above 25 in his previous eight innings, the 24-year-old, who was a last-minute addition to the World Cup squad, got his second fifty of his career to give England some hope.

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