Afghanistan batsmen played adventurously, batting in a fearless manner at the start and end of their innings in front of a sizeable support, to set up a 285-run target for England in their World Cup match at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground of the Arun Jaitley Stadium here in Delhi on Sunday.
This was their second successive score in excess of 270 at this venue after their 272 in the previous match against India which though they lost in 35 overs.
Put into bat by England, Afghanistan started in a positive manner with Rahmanullah Gurbaz (80 off 57 balls; 8x4s, 4x6s) driving a 114-run partnership for the first wicket with fellow opener Ibrahim Zadran.
Thanks to Gurbaz taking down Sam Curran by scoring 20 runs in the bowler’s second and innings’ ninth over, Afghans coasted to 79 without loss in the first 10 overs and looked set for a good total.
The introduction of spin through Adil Rashid brought England back as the leg-spinner deceived the Afghans.
First he got rid of Zadran, who played against the spin and lobbed a catch to mid-wicket in his fourth over, and then had No. 3 Rahmat Shah stumped in his fifth over’s fourth ball.
Gurbaz’s run out on the next ball of the same over negated all the advantage Afghanistan had built at the start.
Hashmatullah Shahidi pushed the ball to mid-wicket and called for a run, which Gurbaz felt wasn’t there but was anyway forced to respond and was caught short.
From thereon, the run rate tapered. Overs 11-20 yielded 46 for the loss of those three wickets; overs 20-30, a period of consolidation got the Afghans 42 runs for one wicket and the next lot of 10 overs fetched them 49/2.
However, Ikram Alikhil’s 58 off 66 (3x4s, 2x6s), and cameos from Rashid Khan (23 off 22 balls) and Mujeeb Ur Rahman (28 off 16) took Afghanistan to 284 (all out in 49.5 overs). Adil Rashid finished as England’s most successful bowler with 3/42.