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. That meant an incredible 102 of his runs came courtesy of maximums, 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 international 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.
“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!”
Any lingering fears over Morgan’s back injury were allayed by 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. 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.
“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, 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.
Asked whether he was disappointed with the performance of the number three ranked ODI bowler in the world, Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib said: “Not that much because Rashid is one of the best spinners now.
“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.”
Afghanistan were never likely to mount a serious challenge to the total as they crashed to a fifth successive defeat to remain rooted to the foot of the group stage table.
However, they managed to avoid being blown away and posted 247 for eight – their highest of the tournament to date.
Gulbadin added: “We take a lot of positives.”