When Australian skipper Pat Cummins walked at 91 for 7 in a chase of 292 against Afghanistan, all he thought was of somehow getting to 200 so that the net run-rate remains in decent zone before the final World Cup game against Bangladesh. But Glenn Maxwell had other ideas as the Australian skipper watched the “greatest ODI innings” unfold in-front of his eyes with his partner hitting an unbelievable 201 not out off 128 balls to take his team to the semi-final of the global event.
“When I went out there, I thought if we can somehow scratch the 200, our net run rate should be pretty good for the semi-final. When Maxi got his 100, I kind of thought, wow, we are within 120 or something. And then I still thought, no way,” Cummins was honest enough to admit that he thought winning was out of question.
“I think Maxi might be a bit different. I think he is always plotting his way to a win. I think even 200 runs out, he was kind of mapping out how he was going to do it. I was just trying to survive,” Cummins said.
It was only when Australia reached 250 that he thought miracle could happen.
“I reckon it was not until the spinners were just about done and there was maybe 40 off 40 or something where I thought okay even if Max gets out here, I reckon the other guys can get it done. But yeah, literally within the last 20 minutes was about the only time,” he added.
Maxwell battled right leg cramp and needed multiple medical time-outs before accomplishing the impossible.
“Initially, when I walked out there, we thought the mystery spinners were the biggest trouble. The ball was still spinning a little bit and they were bowling really well. For me it was just basically hanging in there,” Cummins shared with the media after Australia’s sensational win.
“Maxi was still scoring quite freely. We knew it was the kind of wicket that gets easier. (We) did not really feel like run rate was ever going to be an issue with Maxie still at the crease,” Cummins said.
The Australia skipper batted for as many as 68 balls during their 202-run stand for the eighth wicket and scored a mere 12 runs, not for once attempting a scoring shot for himself and leaving all the responsibility on Maxwell.
Cummins said the plan worked out quite well for Australia.
“For me, it was just about basically survival and just hope we get a look at some of the other bowlers that maybe that wicket does not suit as much. It was a pretty simple plan. (We) did not look too far ahead,” Cummins said.
Cummins said in such situations, bowlers rarely have potent plans to stop on-song batters like Maxwell who are hitting them for sixes over third man batting on literally just one leg.
“It is just a one-man show. It is just like, it looks so easy. I am up the other end and I do not see any gaps in the field — I do not see where I am going to score a boundary — and it seems like every time he sees that he just runs away for four,” Cummins praised his Australia teammate.
Players like Maxwell are freaks and what they can pull off is only their preserve.
“He still cannot move and still manages to hit a six of the third man with reverse (lap) — he is a freak, he hits into different areas, again, he makes it look so easy. When you are up against someone like that as a bowler, you just, you do not have many options,” Cummins added.
With the crowd at Wankhede Stadium supporting Afghanistan for the majority of the game, Cummins could hear their allegiances shifting during the Maxwell ‘freak show’.
“The crowd is normally on Maxie’s side whenever he is playing over here,” Cummins said.
“You could hear it just getting louder and louder with each boundary, and I think, (just) as he started not moving his feet and still scoring boundaries. You can hear them start going crazy,” Cummins said.
However, the Australia captain was honest enough to admit that they are yet to put together a complete game in this World Cup, despite having joined India and South Africa in the semifinals.
“More so, just really happy with how we are playing, the style we are playing. I mean, today was a bit of an outlier, Maxie dragged us out of that one, but like with the bat we have been aggressive, we have taken the games on, we are really putting the pressure back onto the opposition,” Cummins said.
“Everything’s trending really well after a bit of a slow start. I still don’t think we’ve put a complete game together,” he added.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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