You never really win a game until you bowl the final ball. And especially with one of the cruelest teams in World Cup history facing you. On what appeared to be a quiet Tuesday night, Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium erupted into an incredible display of cricket. First, the bowlers from Afghanistan dismissed Australia to 7 down, putting them on the verge of the biggest upset in the history of the tournament. Next, Glenn Maxwell produced a knock that was evocative of Kapil Dev’s famous 175* from the 1983 World Cup, pulling off one of the most unbelievable heists with the greatest World Cup performance ever.
Despite nearly being out for the opening ball of the match and struggling to complete the knock because of cramping, Maxwell never gave up. The five-time world champions orchestrated a three-wicket victory as Maxwell, on one foot, battled through to score an unbeaten 201. Maxwell is the first Australian to score a double century in ODI cricket and the third batter to accomplish the feat in a World Cup match. This inning defied logic and tested the limits of human capabilities.
Following victories against Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the Netherlands, Australia stormed into the semifinals, joining India and South Africa. Meanwhile, Afghanistan, who had been on a winning streak, would now face a formidable challenge for the fourth and last knockout spot.
Australia’s worst nightmare
Australia was given an extraordinary job to ensure a spot in the semifinals. At the Wankhede, a score of greater than 280 has never been effectively pursued. And Tuesday night, it appeared to still be the case.
Travis Head edged a length ball that was angling in from round the wicket, allowing Naveen-ul-Haq to strike with his very first ball. He dismissed the powerful Mitchell Marsh in his third over, using the new ball, with a delivery that brought back memories of when he dismissed Jos Buttler in that memorable victory against England. Marsh, like Buttler, was undone by the angle and Naveen’s ability to get the ball to nip back in towards the stumps. He ran outside of the crease and landed it far outside off. The ball impacted the batter’s rear pad in line with the stumps, preventing a connection.
Afghanistan appeared to be without Fazalhaq Farooqi when the ball was swinging at the Wankhede. But Azmatullah Omarzai, who is perhaps the country’s third-best fast bowler, stepped up to the plate. He was bowled out for 14 runs in his opening over, but he came back with a maiden over against David Warner, then dismissed Josh Inglis and Warner in consecutive deliveries.
Australia were 4 down and on the back foot, desperately needing a partnership from their final pair of specialist hitters. And just when it looked like the Australians’ situation couldn’t get any worse, Marnus Labuschagne’s careless run-out put them down five. Shortly after, Rashid Khan took out Marcus Stoinis and Starc in consecutive overs. It was a lucky dismissal since the review revealed that the ball had really flicked the off-stump to the keeper rather than hitting the bat.
Maxwell Played the Greatest Innings of All Time
As Starc made his way back to the pavilion, the win prediction fell below 9%. Afghanistan had already narrowly avoided a historic victory, and Australia was about to suffer a stunning defeat. However, Maxwell had other ideas after surviving a hat-trick delivery from Azmatullah with his opening ball. Maxwell put up a brave fight in a stand with skipper Pat Cummins. He played the aggressor role as he smashed four boundaries and reached fifty runs in 51 deliveries. He then quickly reached a century in only 25 deliveries, adding three more boundaries and as many sixes.
Maxwell was not rattled by the Afghanistan onslaught, which had caused mayhem for the top order. But the humid Mumbai circumstances proved to be too much for the Australian. He was trudging through the 22 yards for a single at one point before collapsing and spraining his leg. After making his way from the dressing room down the stairs, Adam Zampa, No. 10, was ordered back.
Even though he was still barely able to walk on one foot, Maxwell realized that he only needed to use his two hands to get Australia through. Therefore, Maxwell proceeded with little footwork. Reaching the 150-run milestone in 28 more deliveries before hitting three consecutive sixes and a four. Against Mujeeb Ur Rahman to assist Australia in finishing the most successful chase in ODI history at the Wankhede.