Australia vs Afghanistan: Glenn Maxwell’s ‘Superhuman’ innings helps Australia beat Afghanistan by three wickets

Glenn Maxwell produced one of the most astonishing Cricket World Cup innings by smashing 201 off 128 balls on Tuesday to lead Australia past Afghanistan with 19 deliveries to spare and into the semifinals.

Australia joined India and South Africa in the last four and damaged Afghanistan’s unlikely bid to reach the semifinals.

Maxwell finished his highest ODI knock unable to run between the wickets because of cramp, just slashing the ball over the boundary without moving his legs as Australia chased down its target of 292. He hit 21 fours as well as 10 sixes, the last coming off the final ball of the match.

Australia, set 292 to win, had collapsed to 91-7 before Maxwell dragged his team back into the reckoning with a century which helped the five-time champions go to 186-7.

They would have been in deep trouble had not Mujeeb Ur Rahman dropped a simple catch at short fine leg when all-rounder Maxwell, the last of Australia’s recognised batsmen, was on 33.

Maxwell went onto make a 51-ball fifty, having missed the win over England in bizarre fashion after suffering a concussion when falling off a golf buggy.

He then piled on the agony for Afghanistan by taking just 25 more balls to complete a hundred featuring 10 fours and three sixes.

Australia were seven down against Afghanistan at the 25-over mark in Mumbai at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.

Earlier, Naveen-ul-Haq struck in his very first over, getting Travis Head to nick one behind the wicket. Mitchell Marsh attacked to pick up the scoring rate, but was eventually undone by a brilliant Naveen delivery, which skidded in and thudded into his pads and the umpire raised his finger after an appeal.Azmatullah Omarzai’s double strike soon reduced Australia from 49/2 to 49/4 in the ninth over.

21-year-old Ibrahim Zadran etched his name in Afghanistan’s cricket history by scoring the country’s first ever World Cup hundred that propelled them to a respectable 291 for 5 against Australia here on Tuesday.

Zadran anchored the innings with an unbeaten 129 off 143 balls as Afghanistan scored 64 in last five overs against five-time champions in a do-or-die game as far as their maiden semi-final appearance is concerned.

Zadran who made his ODI debut just four years ago, produced a terrific knock at the Wankhede Stadium in a key World Cup clash to record his fifth ton in only 26 ODIs.

He also has five fifties to his credit. Zadran also became the first batter from his nation to score a ton against Australia.

Vindicating his captain’s call at the toss to bat first totally, Zadran’s unhurried knock showcased his high-class temperament, fitness as well as calibre as he batted for the entirety of the Afghanistan innings, taking them to a fighting total on a batting-friendly pitch.

Zadran faced 143 balls and cracked eight fours and three sixes to make the highest score for any Afghanistan batter in World Cup tournaments since their maiden appearance two editions ago, surpassing Samiullah Shinwari’s 96 against Scotland at Dunedin in the 2015 World Cup.

“I had a good chat with Sachin Tendulkar yesterday, he shared a lot of his experiences that I can’t express. I’m very thankful to him for sharing his experiences and giving me a lot of confidence,” Zadran said at the break.

With Australia pacers not finding any assistance off the surface or in the air right from the beginning, Afghanistan’s approach was largely conservative but there were some sparks of brilliance too.

Azmatullah Omarzai smacked two sixes and a four to make an 18-ball 22 to provide Afghanistan with much-needed impetus in the middle overs. He was dismissed by Adam Zampa (1/58) who now has 20 wickets in the World Cup so far.

Towards the end, Rashid Khan, who perhaps did not bowl at all during the lead-up to this contest, hammered a quickfire 35 not out off 18 balls (2x4s, 3x6s).

But the star of the innings undoubtedly was young Zadran, who gave a fine example of his talent at the biggest stage by shepherding the rest of the Afghanistan batters who appeared to be batting around him.

The first breakthrough came at the end of the eighth over when Rahmanullah Gurbaz (21) lazily pulled a short ball from Josh Hazlewood (2/39) to Mitchell Starc stationed at deep backward square leg, having put on 38 for the first wicket.

But an 83-run stand from 100 balls for the second wicket between Rahmat Shah (30) and Zadran consolidated Afghanistan’s position, allowing them to build a platform.

While they put the bad deliveries away, both Zadran and Shah rotated the strike well.

*With Agency Inputs

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Updated: 07 Nov 2023, 10:16 PM IST

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