England captain Morgan never imagined history-making innings

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England’s Eoin Morgan broke records against Afghanistan (Martin Rickett/PA)

Eoin Morgan never envisaged breaking the record for most sixes in a one-day international innings in a sizzling 148 from 71 balls that ushered England to victory over Afghanistan.

The England captain’s 17 maximums overhauled the previous benchmark of 16, jointly held by Chris Gayle, Rohit Sharma and AB De Villiers, while his 57-ball ton is the fourth quickest in the World Cup’s 44-year history.

Dropped on 28, Morgan spirited England to 397 for six – which included 25 sixes, another all-time high – and they went to the top of the standings after restricting Afghanistan to 247 for eight.

England v Afghanistan – ICC Cricket World Cup – Group Stage – Old Trafford
England’s Eoin Morgan leaves the field after being dismissed for 148 (Martin Rickett/PA)

But after hogging the headlines in a 150-run victory, Morgan revealed he took even himself by surprise and was elated to prove he could compete with the likes of Jos Buttler and the best of his side’s big-hitters.

On setting a new benchmark for the most maximums in an ODI innings, he said: “I honestly don’t know, it’s weird, very strange. It’s something, along with the innings, that I never thought I’d do.

“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 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.

“I think I’m probably just becoming a target for guys in the changing room to take down. The hundred I scored is considered a slow one in our changing room, guys talk about it all the time. Tough school!”

Morgan’s efforts come just days after he limped off in the win over the West Indies with a back spasm, and there were question marks he would even take to the field at Old Trafford right up until Tuesday morning’s toss.

Any lingering fears were subsequently allayed following a knock that relegated hefty contributions from Jonny Bairstow (90) and Joe Root (88) to footnotes.

He added: “The back feels good. I’m absolutely delighted with the way it’s come through like that, particularly with the fielding. Those were the bigger worries, turning and diving and all sorts.

“(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.

England v Afghanistan – ICC Cricket World Cup – Group Stage – Old Trafford
England’s Jonny Bairstow also impressed with the bat (Tim Goode/PA)

“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.”

Asked whether being top of the table is a boost for England ahead of Friday’s clash against Sri Lanka at Headingley, Morgan added: “I think it is.

“If we can produce the level of intensity in which we operated (against Afghanistan), it will leave us in a really good place.”

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