MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - England captain Eoin Morgan said he never thought he could shatter a six-hitting record or blast a century with a strike rate of over 200 after pulling off both in Tuesday’s World Cup romp against Afghanistan.
Morgan clobbered 17 sixes, one more than the previous record shared by India’s Rohit Sharma, West Indies’ Chris Gayle and South African AB de Villiers, in an audacious display of ball-striking at Old Trafford.
“Never, never have I ever thought I could play a knock like that. I’m delighted that I have,” Morgan told a news conference after his career-best 148 earned him the man-of-the-match award.
“I think coming in at the time where it was a 50-50 shout whether myself or Jos (Buttler) went in probably helped that, 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 keep going. Yeah, one of those days.”
Morgan was on 28 when Dawlat Zadran dropped him in the deep, a mistake Afghanistan were left to rue as the southpaw tore into them during his 71-ball blitzkrieg.
“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...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.”
Morgan was particularly harsh on Afghanistan’s spin spearhead Rashid Khan whose 9-0-110-0 is the worst bowling figures in the history of World Cup.
Asked how it felt to possess the new six-hitting record, Morgan said, “Honestly, I don’t know. It’s weird. Like I mentioned, along with the innings, it’s something I never thought I’d do. It’s a nice place to be.”
Morgan was not even certain to play the game after suffering back spasm in last week’s victory against West Indies but assured it was holding up.
“Absolutely delighted with the way it’s come through that, particularly with the fielding. That was one of the bigger worries, turning and diving and all sorts,” he said.
England rode on Morgan’s innings to plunder nearly 200 of the last 15 overs and the captain admitted they exceeded the their own expectations.
“We were on target for 280, 290, maybe 300,” Morgan said.
“I thought it was quite cagey. I thought the wicket was a little bit tacky and we were always talking about getting a late 200 score, and we thought that would have been enough to be competitive.”
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in Manchester; Editing by Pritha Sarkar