The pantheon of great sporting upsets gained another monument on Sunday as Afghanistan roundly defeated England by 69 runs at the ICC Cricket World Cup in Delhi, India.
It was an upset of immense proportions – Afghanistan had only ever won one World Cup match in its entire history while England is the defending world champion, still basking in the glow of a golden era that has bestowed mythical status on much of its team.
But England sputtered from the very start as some loose bowling allowed Afghanistan to build an impressive platform, putting on more than 100 runs without losing a wicket.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz scored 80 off 57 balls, anchoring his team’s total, while Ikram Ali Khil added 58 runs from 66 balls to continue frustrating England’s bowlers as Afghanistan reached a respectable 284 all out.
It was a total that seemed within reach for England but, aside from Harry Brook’s 66, its batting lineup offered little resistance to Afghanistan’s spin bowlers.
Offspinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who took 3-51 and added 28 runs with the bat, was awarded the player of the match trophy which he dedicated to “the people who were affected by the earthquake in Afghanistan,” according to Sky Sports.
On October 7, the country’s western Herat province and Herat city was devastated by a powerful 6.3 magnitude earthquake which has killed more than 2,000 people, Taliban government officials estimate.
Defeating England following the earthquake added another dimension to Afghanistan’s historic victory, one which captain Rashid Khan hoped will give Afghans a “little bit of smile on their faces,” he said, per ESPN Cricinfo.
After already losing to New Zealand, this shock defeat leaves England in real danger of crashing out the World Cup in the group stages, giving Saturday’s game against South Africa even more importance.
Afghanistan will next play on Wednesday against New Zealand.