In a dramatic turn of events at the 2023 Cricket World Cup, Afghanistan’s cricketing underdogs stunned the cricketing world by securing a resounding 69-run victory over England. The match unfolded as a thrilling display of talent and determination, redefining the landscape of the tournament’s early stages. 

Reflecting on this monumental achievement, the Player of the Match, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, shared his thoughts on the game. His statement encompassed the collective effort and the strategic approach that underpinned Afghanistan’s victory.  

“It’s a very proud moment to be here in the World Cup and beating the champions. It’s a great achievement for the whole team; we worked hard for this day. We beat such a big team. It was a wonderful performance from the bowlers and the batters.”, Mujeeb said at the post-match presentation. 

Explosive Batting by Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ikram Akhil 

The backbone of Afghanistan’s memorable triumph was the explosive batting performance of the 21-year-old Rahmanullah Gurbaz. Gurbaz’s fearless and aggressive power-hitting, exemplified by a sensational 80 runs off just 57 balls, set the tone for the match and kept England on the backfoot. His blitzkrieg at the crease was only halted by an unfortunate run-out.

Another star of the show was Ikram Ali khil, making his World Cup debut. He displayed incredible composure and resilience, crafting a valuable half-century. His partnership with the lower-order batsmen further solidified Afghanistan’s position and made England’s target of 285 runs appear insurmountable.

Outstanding Bowling by Afghanistan

From the outset, England encountered obstacles in their pursuit of the 285-run target. Afghanistan’s bowlers, particularly Fazalhaq Farooqi and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, masterfully exploited the powerplay. Key wickets, including Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root, tumbled in the early stages of England’s innings.

Afghanistan’s bowlers displayed remarkable skill throughout the match. Their well-executed plans and disciplined bowling, especially under the floodlights, continuously disrupted England‘s hopes of a smooth chase. Even England’s star batsman, Jos Buttler, faced considerable difficulties as Afghanistan’s bowlers maintained their stranglehold. 

Mujeeb elaborated on the challenges of spin bowling during the powerplay, highlighting his dedication to improving and being more effective. His meticulous work in the nets on his bowling technique significantly contributed to Afghanistan’s success.

“I am always trying to bowl stump to stump and keep it simple. We knew that the dew was going to come and play a part in the latter part. That’s why I was telling the captain to bowl me in the powerplay. We were mentally prepared.” 

Mujeeb’s All-Round Contribution

Mujeeb not only bagged 3 wickets with the ball but also scored 28 crucial runs with the bat for Afghanistan while batting at number 9. He faced a mere 16 balls and smashed 3 fours and a six. Mujeeb attributed his batting prowess to the support and confidence he received from the team’s management and players.  

“It’s all about the management, the players. They give me confidence in the nets. He has always been with me in the nets, my partner. He wants to hit each and every ball, that’s the area I want to contribute as well. Those 20-25 runs mean a lot for the team.”, Mujeeb said. 

Mujeeb concluded his statement with a heartfelt dedication, acknowledging the earthquake-stricken people of Herat, making it clear that the victory was not just for their team but also for their homeland, adding a poignant and human dimension to the celebration of Afghanistan’s achievement.  

“This trophy is for the people back home who are affected by the earthquake in Herat. This whole win is for them.”

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