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I didn't believe I could hit record: Morgan

 

Record-breaker: Eoin Morgan celebrates reaching a century on his way to scoring 148
Record-breaker: Eoin Morgan celebrates reaching a century on his way to scoring 148

By David Charlesworth

Eoin Morgan felt he was incapable of producing the record-breaking 148 from 71 balls that ushered England to a crushing 150-run victory over Afghanistan and to the top of the World Cup standings.

The England captain pulverised a world record 17 one-day international sixes out of a team total of 25, another new benchmark in the format, while his 57-ball ton is the fourth quickest in the tournament's 44-year history.

Rohit Sharma, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers have cleared the boundary rope 16 times in an innings, but Morgan's feat is even more remarkable as it came only days after he limped off against the West Indies with a back spasm.

Indeed, whether Morgan would take to the field at all was in question right up until the toss, but he was elated with his efforts, particularly after proving he can compete with some of the best big-hitters on the world stage.

He said: "Never have I ever thought I could play a knock like that. I'm delighted that I have. All the work over the last four years, over the course of my career, it all comes to the front now.

"The last four years I've probably played the best in my career. But that hasn't involved the 50- or 60-ball hundred.

"I've scored one at Middlesex, so I thought I would have it in the locker somewhere, but it's never happened. So I sort of gave up on it a little bit.

"Coming at a time when it was a 50-50 shout whether myself or Jos (Buttler) went in probably helped that because after I'd faced a few balls I had no choice. I had to start taking risks because of him coming in next."

Any lingering fears over Morgan's back injury were quickly allayed following a knock that relegated hefty contributions from Jonny Bairstow (90) and Joe Root (88) to footnotes in England's 397 for six.

He said: "The back feels good. I'm absolutely delighted with the way it's come through like that, particularly with the fielding.

"(Tuesday) morning went pretty smoothly. Early start, getting my back hot and all the muscles moving. I didn't have any injections, I just had medication tablets for the game. It was good.

"I got to the ground early, had a little bit of a fitness test, little bit of a bat and I was just good to go. (But) it took a bit of time before I could get confidence in moving."

Morgan was dropped on 28 in the deep by Dawlat Zadran off Rashid Khan (below), who came in for some heavy punishment from the Dubliner en route to miserable figures of 9-0-110-0, the worst in the competition's history.

Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib came to Khan's defence, stating: "He's a star player. It happens, for any player, so not only Rashid. It's not a big deal.

"I think credit goes to Morgan, especially, for his batting. He showed his class."

Meanwhile, Afghanistan batsman Hashmatullah Shahidi revealed he only got back up to his feet after being floored by a Mark Wood bouncer in a bid to stop his mother worrying about him.

Hashmatullah was on 24 when he turned his back on a 92mph delivery from the England paceman, hitting the turf immediately after impact.

It looked certain that he would be forced to retire hurt but he was on his feet surprisingly quickly.

The 24-year-old appeared to suggest that medical staff advised him to leave the field but he opted to stay in place and ended up top-scoring for his side with 76 in a one-sided 150-run defeat.

"I got up early because of my mum," Hashmatullah said.

"One of the reasons I got up so quickly is because my mum is always thinking of me. I lost my father last year so I didn't want her to hurt. My whole family was watching, even my big brother was here in the ground watching.

"I didn't want them to be worried for me."

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