England's captain Eoin Morgan
England's captain Eoin Morgan celebrates his century against Afghanistan during their World Cup match. Image Credit: Reuters

Southampton: England skipper Eoin Morgan’s 148 off just 71 balls against Afghanistan, comprising 17 sixes and four boundaries, was one of the finest exhibition of aggressive batting in this World Cup. His knock was so spectacular that even Afghanistan skipper Gulbadin Naib remarked that it was one of the best innings he had ever seen.

Admitting that the innings was yet to sink in, Morgan said: “Never, never have I ever thought I could play a knock like that. I’m delighted that I have. I think I went in at a time when there was a 50:50 thought of whether I should be going in or Jos (Butler). So I went in and probably that helped because after I faced a few balls, I had no choice. I had to start taking risks because of him coming in next. And then after I got dropped, it was a matter of just going on. Yes ... its one of those dream days.”

When reminded that he has broken the record for the most number of sixes held by Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and Rohit Sharma and had joined the list of big hitters, Morgan said: “ Honestly, I don’t know. It’s weird. It’s very strange. It’s something I never thought I’d do but it’s a nice place to be.”

More than his knock, what delights him is the fact that his team is on the top of table now. “Going into Friday’s game against Sri Lanka, if we are able to produce the level of intensity with which we operated today, I think it will leave us in a really good place. I know we made some mistakes today but I thought the level which we operated with you can’t fault much.”

To a query whether he had changed his batting style to be able to hit sixes so freely, he said: “I think it’s where I’m looking to score has changed over the course of my career. I think I’ve scored a lot squarer early on in my career, whereas I look a little bit more down the ground now.”

Morgan feels that he has been playing at his best in the last four years, but never thought he could bat so fast to reach a century. “To be fair, the last four years, I’ve probably played the best in my career but that hasn’t involved a 50-or 60-ball 100. I scored one in Middlesex that was, I think 55 or 56. Then that was stored in the locker ... and I had sort of given up on it a little.”

What has pleased the England skipper most is that he could play such a knock on the biggest stage. “In the Champions Trophy two years ago, I had a couple of scores; I would have liked to have gotten more. But this is where it matters. All the work over the last four years, over the course of my career, it all sort of comes to a front now.”

Was Morgan too harsh on Afghanistan star spinner Rashid Khan, who was hit over 100 runs in his spell? “It certainly wasn’t deliberate. We don’t go into any game with any preconceived ideas about how guys can play because anybody can have a bad day. He’s obviously a very, very good bowler and we’ve experienced that before. He’s performed extremely well for a long period. But like all good players, one probably learns the most about yourself when your backs are against the wall.”