Afghanistan Ends 14-Match Losing Streak with Historic Upset Over Defending Champions England at World Cup

In a spectacular throwback to the 2015 World Cup, defending champions England suffered one of the most significant upsets in cricket history. Afghanistan, a team that had struggled to secure victories, managed to secure a remarkable 69-run win in Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium, etching their name into the annals of cricketing folklore.

This shocking turn of events stands as England’s most significant upset since Bangladesh knocked them out of the 2015 World Cup or when Ireland caused a similar sensation in 2011. England, led by Jos Buttler, were confronted with their historical demons as they were humbled on a seemingly serene Sunday evening.

The victory in Delhi marks only the second-ever win for Afghanistan in World Cups, their maiden appearance dating back to 2015 when they clinched a victory over Scotland in Dunedin by a mere one wicket. Following a string of disappointments in the 2019 World Cup, compounded by losses against Bangladesh and India in the 2023 edition, Afghanistan decisively broke free from a 14-match losing streak, securing not only their biggest win in international cricket but also in World Cup history.

Afghanistan’s stunning victory was engineered on the back of a record 284 runs. Opting to bat after Buttler won the toss, Afghanistan delivered a breathtaking start with openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran. The duo, who had a subdued start in previous matches, blazed a trail with a blistering 114-run opening partnership, setting a lightning pace of eight runs an over during the initial powerplay.

Gurbaz, in particular, took on the fast bowlers, notching up a fiery half-century. However, Afghanistan faced a sudden top-order collapse after the introduction of Adil Rashid (3/42). Gurbaz remained relentless, taking on the leg-spinner with sweeping boundaries, catapulting Afghanistan to 100 runs in a mere 76 balls. England celebrated their first success in the 17th over as Rashid dismissed Zadran (28) and promptly had Rahmat Shah stumped in his next over.

Gurbaz appeared poised for a century, having scored eight boundaries and four maximums, but a needless single called by skipper Shahidi led to his run-out by substitute David Willey at midwicket. Gurbaz, who departed for 80, expressed his frustration as he left the field, venting his anger by striking a boundary rope and a chair.

The match seemed to be swaying toward another collapse, but a resolute 43-run partnership between Ikram Alikhil and Rashid Khan steadied Afghanistan’s innings. However, the partnership was disrupted as Rashid fell victim to a spectacular piece of fielding by Joe Root on the boundary. Alikhil was eventually dismissed for 58, while Mujeeb Ur Rahman added a quickfire 28 off 16 balls before England wrapped up Afghanistan’s innings in the penultimate ball of the final over, with Jos Buttler running out Naveen-ul-Haq.

Afghanistan’s total of 284 marked their second-highest in a World Cup match, following their 288 against the West Indies in 2019.

England’s response saw an early setback, with Fazalhaq Farooqi executing a brilliant plan to dismiss Jonny Bairstow (2) in his very first delivery, trapping him leg-before as Bairstow lost his balance. Subsequently, Mujeeb bowled a flipper that dismissed England’s best batter, Joe Root (11), who erred by playing the fuller delivery on his back foot. Mohammad Nabi then ended Dawid Malan’s resistance at 32 runs.

England’s struggles mounted as Jos Buttler fell victim to an in-dipper from Naveen, and Liam Livingstone squandered a review after being trapped leg-before by Rashid. With half of their side dismissed, Harry Brook stood as the solitary beacon of hope for England. Known for never surpassing 25 in his previous eight innings, the 24-year-old, a last-minute inclusion in the World Cup squad, managed to secure his second career fifty, offering a glimmer of hope.

As Afghanistan aimed to deliver the knockout blow to England, their captain reintroduced Mujeeb, who dismantled Chris Woakes with a googly and subsequently dismissed Brook with a carrom ball, bringing Brook’s innings to an end at 66 runs. Rashid then wrapped up the final two wickets in rapid succession, ultimately reducing England to just 215 runs with 57 balls remaining, thus sealing Afghanistan’s historic victory.

This triumph will undoubtedly remain etched in the memories of cricket enthusiasts, and it marks a remarkable turning point in Afghanistan’s cricketing journey.

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