MUMBAI: A masterclass double century by Glenn Maxwell, the first for his country in international cricket, helped Australia secure a semi-final spot in the ICC Cricket World Cup as they defeated Afghanistan by three wickets in a crucial match here.
Maxwell’s blitzkrieg in which he scored 201 runs came in 128 balls and comprised 21 fours and 10 sixes.
Maxwell came to the crease when Australia were 49 for four chasing Afghanistan total of 291, and saw more wickets falling quickly with his team’s score reading 91 for seven. The odds were heavily loaded in favour of Afghanistan, who have had a dream run in the World Cup and it seemed they were on the verge of another giant kill.
But Maxwell would have none of it as he took charge of the Australian innings and single-handedly took the five-time champions to a memorable victory to huge disappointment of Afganistan fans.
Australia now have won six matches in a row and are in the semis with 12 points. Afghanistan have lost four of their eight matches. They still have a South Africa match to go and hopes for semis are alive.
Chasing 292, David Warner smashed Mujeeb ur Rahman for a four on very first ball. However, in the next over, Australia received a huge blow as Travis Head was caught behind by Ikram Alikhil for a two-ball duck on a delivery by Naveen-ul-Haq. Australia were 4/1 in 1.2 overs.
Mitchell Marsh and Warner started to rebuild the innings, with Marsh targeting Naveen and Azhmatullah Omarzai, smashing them for a four and six each. However, Naveen trapped Marsh leg-before wicket for 24 and Australia were 43/2 in 5.4 overs.
Australia looked a little directionless and fragile in absence of Steve Smith, its premier batter. Omarzai cleaned up Warner for 18 as he attempted a sweep. On the very next ball, an outswinger ended Josh Inglis’ one-ball stay for a duck as he was caught by Ibrahim Zadran in the slips. Australia slipped to 49/4. Australia reached the 50-run mark in 8.5 overs and ended the ten overs for the first powerplay at 52/4.
Marnus Labuschagne was the next casualty of a brilliant on-field performance by Afghanistan as Rahmat Shah ran him out for 14. Half of the Australian line-up was gone for 69 runs in 14.1 overs.
Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis, the big hitters of the line-up, tried to launch a counterattack on Afghanistan. However, Rashid trapped Stoinis lbw for just six. Australia sunk to 87/6 in 16.4 overs.
Rashid’s next victim was Mitchell Starc. Ikram took a brilliant diving catch to remove him for just three. Australia were in deep trouble at 91/7 in 18.4 overs.
Maxwell made most of catches that Afghanistan dropped, reaching his half-century in 51 balls, with seven fours. Australia crossed the 100-run mark in 20.1 overs. Maxwell launched his counterattack and Australia reach the 150-run mark in 28.1 overs. The all-rounder reached his century in just 76 balls, with ten fours and three sixes. A century stand was up for Australia in 89 balls. Australia reached 200-run mark in 35 overs.
Maxwell brought up his 150 runs in 104 balls, with 17 fours and five sixes. He battled heat and cramps all this while, smashing all his runs with his feet planted on the ground.
Australia appear to march towards victory reaching the 250-run mark in 43.3 overs, most runs coming from a swashbuckling Maxwell.
Maxwell completed the victory with a six, smashing a historic double century, first by an Australian in international cricket.
Australia ended at 293/7 in 46.5 overs, with Maxwell standing at 201* in 128 balls, with 21 centuries and 10 sixes. Pat Cummins was unbeaten at 12*. Naveen, Azhmatullah and Rashid took two wickets each.
Earlier, Ibrahim Zadran’s maiden century helped Afghanistan to 291/5 against Australia in the 39th match of the ODI World Cup 2023 at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday.
Afghanistan’s maiden World Cup century came after Zadran played a 129-run knock from 143 balls against the Aussies on Tuesday. On the other hand, the Aussie bowling attack failed to make early breakthroughs in the match which helped Afghanistan to score 291/5. After winning the toss Hashmatullah Shahidi’s Afghanistan decided to bat first.
Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Zadran opened for the Afghanis and played a 38-run partnership.
However, Josh Hazlewood managed to take the first breakthrough of the game after he dismissed Gurbaz for 21 runs from 25 balls in the 7.6 over (AFG 38-1). In the first powerplay, Afghanistan scored 46 runs and Australia could only bag one wicket. After playing 122 balls, Afghanistan crossed the 100-run mark in the 20.2 overs. While Australia gave five extras in the game.
Glenn Maxwell got the second wicket for the Aussies after he removed Rahmat Shah for 30 runs from 44 balls in the 24.4 over (AFG 121-2). Mitchell Starc’s first wicket of the game came after he bagged the wicket of Afghanistan skipper Shahidi for 26 runs from 43 balls (AFG 173-3). Zadran helped Afghanistan to cross 200 runs in the 40.5 overs after playing 245 balls.
Azmatullah Omarzai could manage to score only 22 runs from 18 balls after Adam Zampa removed him in the 42.3 overs (AFG 210-4).
Mohammad Nabi could not make a mark in the game after he scored only 12 runs from 10 balls and was dismissed by Hazlewood in the 45.3 overs (AFG 233-5). Afghani opener Zadran stayed on crease till the end moment of the first inning and scored his fifth career hundred.
Rashid Khan played a crucial role in taking Afghanistan to 291 runs. Rashid smashed two fours and three sixes to make 35 runs from 18 balls with a strike rate of 194.44. The third powerplay have been costly for Australia as they gave away 96 runs after picking up two wickets.
Aussie star bowler Starc was expensive with the ball as he gifted 70 runs in his nine-over spell and picked one wicket. Hazlewood bagged two wickets in his nine-over spell. Meanwhile, Maxwell and Zampa picked up one wicket each in their respective spells.
Brief score: Afghanistan: (Ibrahim Zadran 129, Rashid Khan 35, Josh Hazlewood 2/39) lost to Australia: 293/7 in 46.5 overs (Glenn Maxwell 201*, Mitchell Marsh 24, Rashid Khan 2/44). (ANI)