Eoin Morgan allayed any lingering fears over his fitness by clubbing England’s fastest World Cup hundred while his side broke their own record for most sixes in an innings against Afghanistan.
Yorkshire pair Jonny Bairstow (90) and Joe Root (88) were also heavy contributors but the England captain was the headline act only a few days after limping off the field with a back spasm against the West Indies.
Cleared to participate on Tuesday morning, Morgan made Afghanistan pay for dropping him on 28, as he cleared the boundary rope with abandon en route to a scintillating 57-ball ton in England’s 397 for six – the highest one-day international total at Old Trafford.
Only Kevin O’Brien, Glenn Maxwell and AB De Villiers have gone to three figures off fewer deliveries in the tournament’s history, but Morgan continued to accelerate and his 148 off 71 balls was his career-best score in ODIs while his 17 sixes is a world record.
His efforts helped England to 25 maximums to set a new global benchmark, beating their previous best by one, as they laid waste to an Afghanistan bowling line-up in which it was thought the three-pronged spin attack of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi would cause problems on a surface used for India-Pakistan 48 hours ago.
In actuality, only Mujeeb escaped with credible figures of nought for 44 while Rashid, ranked third in the world among bowlers in ODIs, was taken to all parts – figures of 9-0-110-0 comfortably his worst in the format.
After Morgan had won the toss, James Vince, in for the injured Jason Roy, and Jonny Bairstow were watchful and a score of 46 for one after the first powerplay was their lowest of the tournament.
That would have been much lower were it not for some poor ground fielding from the tournament qualifiers, although Mujeeb held on at short fine leg off Dawlat Zadran to see the back of Vince for a sketchy 26 from 31 balls.
Bairstow continued with caution but shortly after bringing up his second fifty of the tournament, he started to open his shoulders and crunched his Sunrisers Hyderabad team-mate Rashid for six over midwicket.
He seemed poised for a hundred but Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib took a fine low catch off his own bowling.
That brought Morgan to the crease, the left-hander quickly settling into his stride with back-to-back maximums off his opposite number.
The in-form Root moved unobtrusively to 50, having only hit two fours, but sensibly deferred to the buccaneering Morgan, who was given a reprieve when Dawlat made a hash of a steepler at deep midwicket off Rashid.
Morgan thumped the vaunted leg-spinner over the same area to compound the mistake and had contributed 44 in a half-century stand with Root – who was soon overtaken after his captain had brought up a 36-ball half-century.
Morgan needed only 21 more deliveries to get to his 13th ODI hundred – and 12th for England – as he showed little mercy to Rashid and Nabi, in particular, routinely bringing the crowd to their feet with some monstrous blows.
Both Root and Morgan holed out off Gulbadin in the space of three balls but the damage in a blistering 189-run stand had been done.
Moeen Ali, included at the expense of Liam Plunkett, amassed an unbeaten 31 from nine balls to leave Afghanistan, bottom of the table after four defeats from four, a seemingly unassailable target.