Glenn Maxwell’s extraordinary double century (201*) has catapulted Australia into the semi-finals of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.
Despite battling cramps towards the end of his innings, Maxwell persevered, scoring a double century that now stands as the highest individual score in a Cricket World Cup chase.
In the first innings, a magnificent century by Ibrahim Zadran (129*), solid performances from the middle-order batsmen, and a strong finish by the lower-order propelled Afghanistan to their highest Cricket World Cup score.
Match 39: Australia Triumphs Over Afghanistan by Three Wickets
While defending a score of 292, Afghanistan made significant early progress, with Naveen-ul-Haq striking in the first over and dismissing Travis Head.
Mitchell Marsh attempted to accelerate the scoring rate but was eventually dismissed by a superb delivery from Naveen, which trapped the Australian all-rounder before the stumps.
A double strike by Azmatullah Omarzai quickly reduced Australia from 49/2 to 49/4 in the ninth over.
Australia’s hopes now rested on Marnus Labuschagne and Glenn Maxwell. The pair added 20 runs for the fifth wicket before Labuschagne was run out by an exceptional effort from Rahmat Shah.
Rashid Khan entered the fray in the 15th over and immediately made an impact. His two wickets compounded the early damage and further dented Australia’s innings.
Maxwell and Pat Cummins managed to hold their ground over the next few overs, even as Afghanistan’s spinners continued to assert their dominance.
Maxwell then accelerated the innings with a series of aggressive shots. He hit 10 fours and three sixes on his way to his century, almost single-handedly taking Australia from 98/7 at the end of the 20th over to 194/7 at the end of the 34th.
Maxwell’s exceptional innings became a heroic display as he continued to bat despite severe cramping. He limped around the pitch for singles while also capitalizing on boundary opportunities.
After a slip while running, his condition deteriorated. However, Maxwell, now unable to run, continued on one leg, executing a series of exquisite strokes to bring his team within striking distance of a memorable victory.
Australia’s captain, Pat Cummins, provided valuable support, scoring a Test-like 12 off 68 balls, exactly what the situation required. A series of big hits helped Australia clinch the game in the 47th over.
Earlier in the day, Afghanistan got off to a strong start thanks to Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmanullah Gurbaz. The batsmen gave few opportunities to Australia and maintained a healthy scoring rate.
Australia made a breakthrough when Gurbaz played an unusually aggressive shot off Josh Hazlewood and was caught by Mitchell Starc.
The third-wicket partnership between Zadran and Rahmat Shah kept the runs coming. While Zadran capitalized on loose deliveries, Rahmat took his time before accelerating.
However, an overly aggressive shot led to Rahmat’s dismissal. He attempted an inside-out shot off Glenn Maxwell but failed to connect properly, resulting in a catch for Hazlewood in the deep.
Afghanistan adopted a cautious approach after the middle overs, adding runs at a rate of 4.3 between overs 26-35. Mitchell Starc made the next significant contribution to the game, dismissing Shahidi.
Azmatullah Omarzai’s arrival at the crease gave Afghanistan a much-needed boost, with the youngster playing a number of attractive shots.
His aggressive batting eventually led to his dismissal as he was caught at long-off from the bowling of Adam Zampa in the 43rd over. Ibrahim reached his century in the 44th over, a first for Afghanistan in a Cricket World Cup, and then accelerated his scoring.
Quickfire innings from Mohammed Nabi (12 from 10) and Rashid Khan (35* from 18) helped Afghanistan finish on a high note.
At the toss, Shahidi made the right call and chose to bat first. For Afghanistan, Naveen-ul-Haq replaced Fazalhaq Farooqi.
Australia was bolstered by the return of Mitchell Marsh and Glenn Maxwell. However, Steve Smith was absent due to vertigo issues.