Australia 293 for 7 (Maxwell 201*, Rashid 2-44) beat Afghanistan 291 for 5 (Ibrahim 129*, Rashid 35*, Hazlewood 2-39) by three wickets
At one point, Australia were 91 for 7 chasing 292. Then Glenn Maxwell Glenn Maxwelled his way to a double-century and not only did they win the game, they also sealed their place in the World Cup semi-finals.
After Ibrahim Zadran became Afghanistan’s first-ever centurion in World Cups, Naveen-ul-Haq and Azmatullah Omarzai shredded Australia’s top order as they threatened to script a famous win at the Wankhede. But Maxwell intervened with a sensational 201 not out, 179 of which were scored in an unbroken 202-run partnership with his captain Pat Cummins, to flip the script. The result confirmed Australia’s place in the final four, along with hosts India and South Africa, and left Afghanistan heart-broken.
The chase wasn’t the only thing that got tighter and tighter towards the end. Maxwell, having fielded the 50 overs in the Mumbai heat, began cramping up badly. It was his legs. They’d just stopped working. He looked in agonising pain in the 41st over, prompting the next batter, the No. 10, Adam Zampa to wait by the boundary-line while the physio patched him up to keep him going.
And go he did. Batting without ever moving his feet, Maxwell kept clobbering sixes until he brought home the Australian miracle. Two-hundred and one unbeatean runs in just 128 balls with 21 fours and 10 sixes. It was one of the all-time great ODI innings.
Maxwell had walked in to face Omarzai’s hat-trick ball in the ninth over, when Australia were 49 for 4 in pursuit of 292. He was then involved in a mix-up, which cost Australia the wicket of Marnus Labuschagne for 14. When Marcus Stoinis and Mitchell Starc fell soon after, leaving Australia at 91 for 7, the game looked done. Except it wasn’t. Maxwell soldiered on and Cummins stuck to him limpet-like, contributing just 12 runs (off 68 balls) to a double-century partnership.
With 21 needed off the final four overs for Australia’s win and Maxwell’s double-hundred, he went 6,6,4,6 against Mujeeb Ur Rahman to provide the double coup de grâce.
Mujeeb could’ve cut Maxwell’s innings short on 33 had he not dropped a sitter at short fine. Maxwell then went about doing Maxwell things. He mowed Noor Ahmad over midwicket. He shanked Mujeeb over his head and carted Mohammed Nabi over midwicket too. The reverse-sweep and other trick shots were also on display in Mumbai as he surged to a hundred off 76 balls. He then needed just 52 balls for his second hundred. At the other end, Cummins defended resolutely. That was all he needed to do.
Rashid Khan was the only Afghanistan bowler to escape the one-man wrecking crew that was Maxwell. Afghanistan had picked four spinners for this match, but it was Naveen and Omarzai who inflicted severe damage on Australia’s chase. They bowled Test-match lines and lengths, and swung the new ball both ways, under lights. Naveen first ripped out Travis Head with an outswinger before pinning Mitchell Marsh lbw with an inswinger. Naveen could’ve also dismissed David Warner on 4 had Rahmat Shah not dropped a difficult chance at gully. Warner added 14 to his tally before Omarzai floored his off stump with an inswinger.
Omarzai is only 23 and was playing his 20th ODI, but he’s so skillful that he can construct Warner’s dismissal. After hitting a hard length and bowling a maiden to Warner, he went fuller and stormed through his defences. Having bossed the powerplay during his Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) stint earlier in the year, Omarzai showed the wider world that he could do the job in international cricket too. The next ball was an outswinger to Josh Inglis, who edged to first slip. The next ball was another outswinger, but Maxwell denied Omarzai the hat-trick and the rest is now history.
After finishing off three successful chases in a row, Afghanistan might have had a temptation to do the same on Tuesday. But Hashmatullah Shahidi resisted that and backed his batters to put runs on the board on a slightly atypical Wankhede track, which was on the drier side. Ibrahim led the way and batted through the innings on a hot afternoon to stay unbeaten on 129 off 143 balls. The highlight of his innings was a ramped four off Cummins in the 14th over. Later in the slog overs, he along with Rashid, who hit an unbeaten 35 off 18 balls, laid into Australia’s attack. Ibrahim and Rashid smashed 58 together off just 27 balls to lift Afghanistan to 291, but their joy turned into disbelief and then helplessness in the night.
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