Last match report – Afghanistan vs Australia Match 39 2023/24

Australia 293 for 7 (Maxwell 201*, Rashid 2-44) won Afghanistan 291 for 5 (Ibrahim 129*, Rashid 35*, Hazlewood 2-39) with three wickets.

At one point, Australia were 91 for 7 chasing 292. Then Glenn Maxwell powered his way to a double century and they not only won the match but also secured their place in the World Cup semi-finals.
After Ibrahim Zadran became Afghanistan’s first ever World Cup centurion, Navinul Haq and Azmatullah Omarzai tore up Australia’s top order as they threatened to script a famous win in Wankhede. But Maxwell stepped in with a sensational 201 runs, 179 of which were scored in a 202-run partnership with his captain Pat Cummins, to turn the scenario around. The result confirmed Australia’s place in the semi-finals, alongside hosts India and South Africa, and left Afghanistan heartbroken.

The chase wasn’t the only thing that got tighter at the end. Maxwell, having served 50 overs in the Mumbai heat, started cramping badly. It was his legs. They just stopped working. He looked in excruciating pain in the 41st over, prompting the next batsman, No. 10, Adam Zampa to wait at the boundary line while the doctor patched him up to keep him going.

And he did. Maxwell continued to stamp his feet without moving his feet at all, until he sent the Australian prodigy home. Two unbeaten hundreds and one in just 128 balls with 21 fours and 10 sixes. It was one of the greatest ODI innings ever.

Maxwell had come in to face Omarzai’s triple ball in the ninth over, when Australia were 49 for 4 in pursuit of 292. He was then involved in an error that cost Australia the wicket of Marnus Labuschagne for 14. When Marcus Stoinis and Mitchell Starc fell soon after, they left Australia on 91 for 7, and the match seemed over. Except it wasn’t. Maxwell kept fighting and Cummins stuck to him like a clam, contributing just 12 runs (off 68 balls) in a two-century partnership.

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With needing 21 runs off the last four overs for Australia to win and Maxwell’s double hundred, he went 6,6,4,6 against Mujeeb Ur Rahman to deliver the double coup de grĂ¢ce.

Mujeeb would have shortened Maxwell’s innings at 33 had Jaleesa not fallen short. Then Maxwell started doing Maxwell things. He clips Noor Ahmed over mid on. Mujeeb hit his head and carried Mohammad Nabi over midwicket as well. Reverse knocks and other trick shots were also on display for Mumbai as he rose to his hundred off 76 balls. He then needed just 52 balls for his second hundred. At the other end, Cummins defended resolutely. That was all he had to do.

Rashid Khan was the only Afghan bowler to escape the one-man wrecking crew of Maxwell. Afghanistan picked four spinners for this match, but it was Naveen and Umarzai who did the most damage to Australia’s chase. They bowled Test match lines and lengths, swinging the new ball in both directions, under the lights. Navin first ripped Travis Head with a powerful uppercut before pinning Mitchell Marsh lbw with an inside kick. Naveen would also have dismissed David Warner in the 4th minute had Rahmat Shah not dropped a difficult chance into the gully. Warner added 14 to his tally before Omarzai dropped his stump with an inside shot.

Umarzai is just 23 and playing his 20th ODI, but he is so skilled that he could get Warner sacked. After batting a difficult distance and bowling a maiden to Warner, he went fuller and tore into his defences. Having dominated the powerplay during his stint in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) earlier in the year, Umarzai has shown the wider world that he can do the job in international cricket as well. The next ball was an off-spinner off Josh Inglis, who went past first slip. The next ball was another winger, but Maxwell denied Omarzai a hat-trick and the rest is now history.

After completing three successful chases in a row, Afghanistan may have been tempted to do the same on Tuesday. But Heshmatullah Shahidi countered that and backed his forwards to run onto the board on the somewhat unusual Wankhede track, which was on the drier side. Ibrahim led the way and batted through the innings on a hot afternoon to remain unbeaten with 129 off 143 balls. The highlight of his innings was the four down a Cummins home run in the 14th. One slog later, he and Rashid, who hit an unbeaten 35 off 18 balls, set up Australia’s attack. Ibrahim and Rashid smashed 58 off just 27 balls to take Afghanistan to 291, but their joy turned to disbelief and then helplessness on the night.

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