Glenn Maxwell battled through cramp to smash an unbeaten 201 off 128 balls, single-handedly guiding Australia to an improbable three-wicket win over Afghanistan in a World Cup match on Tuesday and sealing the team’s place in the semi-finals.
Afghanistan looked set for a famous victory against five-time champions Australia at the floodlit Wankhede Stadium, reducing them to 91 for seven wickets after setting them a victory target of 292.
But the Afghans then watched in disbelief as Maxwell unleashed a brilliant counter-attack. With captain Pat Cummins for company, Maxwell took Australia past Afghanistan’s total of 291 for five wickets with 19 balls to spare.
The right-handed batsman suffered cramp after reaching his fourth hundred in the 50-over format but toiled on, cutting back on running between the wickets to manage the pain and relying more on big hits.
In all, Maxwell hit 21 fours and 10 sixes during his knock – many of them over one leg and the last six sealed the win and also brought up his double century. Maxwell secured the highest score in ODI chases with his double century, surpassing the previous record held by Pakistan’s Fakhar Zaman, who had scored 193 against South Africa in Johannesburg.
“Horrible, I feel shocking,” Maxwell said. “It was quite hot when we were on the pitch, I haven’t done a lot of high intensity exercise in the heat. It caught me today, I was lucky to hold it until the end.”
Cummins remained unbeaten on 12 off 68 balls but more importantly added 202 for the unbroken eighth wicket partnership.
Afghanistan made several encounters down the ground but could not find a way to remove Maxwell, who was dropped for 33 by Mujib Ur Rahman off the bowling of Noor Ahmad.
Maxwell was also ruled out before the wicket in the same over against Noor, but the batsman successfully overturned the umpire’s decision on appeal.
“Really disappointed. Cricket is a funny game, it was unbelievable,” Afghanistan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi said.
“We were in the game. Our bowlers started really well, we missed opportunities for the eighth wicket. Maxwell is unstoppable, I have to give him credit.”
Afghanistan openers Naveen-ul-Haq and Azmatullah Omarzai had struck early with the ball to reduce Australia to 49-4 after opening batsman Ibrahim Zadran’s maiden World Cup haul helped Afghanistan post a competitive total.
With Steve Smith missing from the side due to dizziness, Australia didn’t seem to have the depth to chase down the target and Rashid Khan’s two quick strikes looked to have sealed the match in Afghanistan’s favour.
Tuesday’s win lifted Australia to 12 points. They became the third team to reach the semi-finals with India and South Africa having already booked their places.
Zandran earlier anchored the Afghanistan innings with an unbeaten 129 off 143 balls after the South Asian side won the toss and elected to bat. The 21-year-old Zadran’s fifth hundred in the 50-over format was studded with eight fours and three sixes.
All-rounder Rashid smashed an unbeaten 35 off 18 balls with three sixes and two fours to give Afghanistan some quick runs towards the end.
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