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AfghaniSTUNNER: Underdogs deliver all-time World Cup upset as opener's onslaught, spinners take down England

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15th October, 2023
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Afghanistan have claimed their greatest ever victory as a cricketing nation, stunning England by 69 runs to turn the entire World Cup on its head.

Jos Buttler’s side were roundly outplayed on their way to a shock 69-run defeat on Sunday (Monday morning AEDT) and have now lost two of their first three games in India to leave their chances of emerging from the group stage hanging by a thread. 

Having gone through the 2019 tournament winless and begun the 2023 edition with consecutive heavy losses to Bangladesh and India, few gave the underdogs a chance of toppling the reigning champions in Delhi.

But a swashbuckling 80 off just 57 balls from opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz proved a portent of things to come, with Afghanistan recovering from a mid-innings collapse to reach a competitive 284 from their 50 overs, before a superb team bowling performance ran through England for just 215.

Chief destroyer was star leg-spinner Rashid Khan (3/37), who finished off the famous win in style by clean bowling tailender Mark Wood; earlier, fellow tweaker Mujeeb Ur Rahman had followed up his cameo 16-ball 28 to end Afghanistan’s batting innings on a high with three wickets of his own, including the crucial scalps of Joe Root (11), and Harry Brook (66), the latter’s downfall all but ensuring victory.

The triumph pushes Afghanistan up to sixth on the World Cup table, only net run rate behind England, with Australia falling to last place in their stead.


In terms of English stumbles on the biggest stage in one-day cricket this was a result to rank alongside the 2011 loss to Ireland in Bengaluru – a game that current Afghanistan head coach Jonathan Trott played in. 

Afghanistan are a more talented side but two thumping losses against India and Bangladesh, allied with England’s hard-won reputation in white-ball cricket, still made this a seismic result. 

Only Brook could offer any serious resistance with a 61-ball 66 in England’s reply which came to an end with 9.3 overs still remaining.

It is only the Afghans’ second-ever win at the ODI World Cup, the other coming against Scotland in 2015 in their first appearance.

“It’s about execution and we were not at the level we wanted to be with the ball and the bat,” a disappointed England captain Jos Buttler said.

“They are a really skilful attack with some fantastic spin bowlers. They put us under lots of pressure and we weren’t quite good enough today.

“It’s really disappointing. We came here today wanting to put in a really good performance and we got outplayed. You’ve got to let these defeats hurt. Let it hurt; then try to figure out where we need to get better. 

Rashid Khan appeals for the wicket of Liam Livingstone.

Rashid Khan appeals for the wicket of Liam Livingstone. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

“It never feels good; you never like losing games of cricket or not performing to the level you want to. As a whole, we were not at the level we would like to be in a World Cup. On the field and off it, we will be trying to put it right. 

“It’s a big setback. Before the tournament started it’s not how you would have looked at the first three results. We’ve got to show a lot of character, a lot of resilience within the team and most of all a lot of belief.” 

Former England batter Jonathan Trott, forging a new path now as the Afghanistan head coach, was left beaming after landing the biggest scalps of his career. 

“It’s always nice. I think I’ll take any victory. I’m very proud of the performance, whether it’s against England or not,” he said. “I know that the players and the coaching staff deserve it. I’m very keen not to put a dampener on things. 

“I never soaked up enough or enjoyed moments like this. I’m certainly going to say to the guys, ‘enjoy tonight and, spend the time together, whatever you want to do’. 

“If this can bring a smile to people’s faces anywhere in the world, but also encourage boys and girls to pick up a cricket bat or a cricket ball and get playing cricket in Afghanistan, then that’s the sort of the goal that’s been achieved.”