England's captain Eoin Morgan
England's captain Eoin Morgan plays a shot during the match against Afghanistan at Old Trafford in Manchester. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: England captain Eoin Morgan pummeled the Afghanistan attack, raining a record number of 17 sixes, to prove that he is one of the most dangerous players in the shorter format. However, before the volcano erupted, the rumblings or the trigger, came in the form of a dropped catch, which was the turning point, for the worse, before the molten ashes buried the Afghanistan team.

It was a contest of throwing lambs to the wolves as the world’s top-ranked side took on the bottom-most team in the 10-team contest. Dawlat Zardan dropped Morgan off Rashid Khan when he was on 40 off 25 balls. But after the lucky escape, the left-hander moved into the overdrive and the leg-spinner bore the brunt by smashing him at will, hitting 15 sixes after the dropped chance.

From a mere mid-five average for England by the 30th over, when Bairstow was dismissed, Morgan’s authoritative show took them to close to eight an over by the end of the innings. The mystery bowler Rashid Khan in the process joined the unwanted band of bowlers to concede over 100 runs, giving away 110 runs in nine overs. Mystery demystified!

Dawlat, in the end, finished with three wickets including that of Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes towards the end, but he would have been happy with the effort and the dropped catch would still rankle in him. It is not that Afghanistan would have won the match against the favourites for the title, but certainly could have restricted the hosts to a lower score.

Normally the Afghan bowling will do a good job, restricting the rivals, but the batsmen would let them down. On the contrary, in this contest the bowlers were hit to all corners of the park, while the batsmen fought a gamely battle to post a respectable total.

Gulbadin Naib, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi and Asghar Afghan all came to the party, but the target was way too steep for them to overhaul.

Many records fell on the day as a total of 33 sixes were hit, while Morgan also became the fourth fastest World Cup centurion. Now, the minnows will be hoping that they excel in all departments, especially the fielding, to go home with a point. But the Indian are waiting for the next match on June 22.