Published: November 7, 2023, 11:53 PM
The stage was set for another historic moment for Afghanistan in this World Cup, but it was Glenn Maxwell who stole the show, hammering an extraordinary double century to guide Australia to their target of 292 after having been 91/7 at one stage and looking gone for all money.
Maxwell`s astonishing partnership with Pat Cummins yielded 202 runs for the eighth wicket—a record for Australia and the world in ODIs, in which Cummins manfully contributed 12. Maxwell finished unbeaten on 201 from 128 balls, featuring 21 fours and 10 sixes—a new all-time high for an individual innings in ODIs for Australia, surpassing Shane Watson`s 185.
It was also the first double century in ODI cricket by someone other than an opening batsman. Maxwell was batting at no.7, and arrived at the crease at 69/5. And he did it all with practically no leg to stand on.
Even the most ardent Australian fan would have doubted the possibility of a victory when the team was reeling at 91 for 7. But Maxwell had other plans. He displayed remarkable composure, aggression, and remarkable patience despite battling cramps in his leg. At one point, he even stopped moving his leg while batting, yet it didn`t deter him from dispatching fours and sixes around the ground.
Maxwell made the Afghan attack toil, leaving even Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, the two premium Afghan spinners, perplexed about how to contain him.
Ducking the first ball of the 47th over, with 21 runs needed from 24 balls, Maxwell proceeded to smash three sixes and a four in the next four balls, sealing a victory that will surely be etched into cricketing folklore.
Afghanistan had been riding high in this World Cup, and while this defeat won`t erase their achievements, it`s certain to linger in their minds for years to come.
Afghanistan won the toss and chose to bat, making a promising start with 38 runs in the first eight overs, albeit losing the wicket of Rahmanullah Gurbaz. They reached 121 for the second wicket.
Ibrahim Zadran anchored the innings with an unbeaten 129 off 143 balls. Other batters contributed effectively against Australia`s formidable bowling attack, setting a total of 292. Given the diversity of the Afghan bowling, any team would have been anxious facing the task of chasing down such a total.
Initially, Afghanistan seemed in control. They dismissed Travis Head in the second over for a duck. While Mitchell Marsh and David Warner made starts, they couldn`t sustain the momentum. Josh Inglis was dismissed for a golden duck by Azmatullah Omarzai.
Afghanistan was on the brink of a significant upset, claiming three more wickets, leaving Australia stuttering at 91 for seven. At this point, Maxwell had already taken the crease, but nobody could predict what would happen next.
Maxwell stood tall, and Australian captain Pat Cummins partnered with him flawlessly. The rest, as they say, is history. Maxwell swung like there was no tomorrow, playing the innings of his life.
From 91 for seven, Australia ultimately reached 293 for seven. Maxwell, now a living legend, not only led Australia to an improbable victory but also propelled them into the semifinals with this monumental three-wicket win with 19 balls remaining.