Men's ODI WC: Maxwell's scintillating 201 propels Australia to sensational win, seals semis berth

Mumbai: Australia's Glenn Maxwell celebrates after scoring a double century and hitting the winning shot, leading his team to victory in the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup match against Afghanistan at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday, November 07, 2023. (Photo: IANS)

Mumbai: Australia's Glenn Maxwell celebrates after scoring a double century and hitting the winning shot, leading his team to victory in the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup match against Afghanistan at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday, November 07, 2023. (Photo: IANS)

Mumbai, November 7 (IANS) Severely cramping and hardly able to move, Glenn Maxwell played one of the greatest one-day innings, hitting a 128-ball 201 not out to help Australia grab a three-wicket victory from the jaws of defeat against Afghanistan in Match 39 and sealed a semifinal spot for his team in the ICC Men's ODI World Cup at the Wankhede Stadium here on Tuesday.

Australia looked like slumping to an embarrassing defeat, reduced to 91/7 in the 19th over, chasing Afghanistan's score of 291/5 built on the country's first century in World Cup by Ibrahim Zadran (129 not off 143 balls) and a breezy 18-ball 35 by Rashid Khan.

But Maxwell and skipper Pat Cummins raised 202 runs off 170 balls for the 8th wicket partnership, Maxwell scoring 179 of those runs and Cummins remained undefeated with 12 off 68 balls.

It was a sensational innings from Maxwell, who held the fort with Australia reduced to 91/7, getting involved in a run out Marnus Labuschagne. With Australia needing 21 runs off the last four overs, Maxwell blasted an amazing 22 runs off four deliveries in the 47th over, barely able to move inside the crease.

Their 202-run unfinished partnership was the highest for Australia for the 8th wicket, bettering by a huge margin the 119-run stand between between Paul Reiffel and Shane Warne against South Africa in 1993-94. It is also the third double-century partnership in World Cups and the first in India.

In the end, Maxwell blazed an undefeated 201 off 128 deliveries, hitting 21 boundaries and 10 maximums in an amazing inning that took Australia to 12 points from eight matches and confirmed their place in the semifinals as the third-placed team.

Afghanistan had themselves to blame as they dropped two catches of Maxwell and also had an LBW opportunity going against them.

Australia were in deep trouble, reduced to 87/6 in the 15th over after seamers Naveen-ul-Haq and Azmatullah Omarzai landed early blows, claiming a couple of wickets each, and Rashid Khan spun a web around the Australian batters to claim two scalps.

Maxwell, who survived an lbw chance on review and dropped chances at 27 and 33 (by Mujeeb Ur Rahman), was also lucky to see a few edges land in gaps as he scored a brilliant century, making full use of the nine lives to guide Australia to an improbable victor.

He and skipper Pat Cummins raised 100 runs for the 8th wicket partnership off 89 balls, Maxwell scoring 86 of those runs and Cummins only six, with eight extras. Australia were 199/7 in the 34th over and up and running.

With Australia needing 47 from 42 balls, Maxwell hammered 16 runs off Azmatullah, hitting two superb fours and a brilliant six. He then clubbed a six off Naveen-ul-Haq in the next over to make it a manageable 26 off 30 balls.

Australia had looked on their way to defeat in the first power-play itself as Afghanistan struck four early blows.

Travis Head (0), who struck a century in his first match of this World Cup after recovering from an injury, Mitchell Marsh, who blasted an 11-ball 24, and David Warner (14) and Josh Inglis (0) departed in quick succession as Naveen-ul-Haq and Azmatullah Omarzai claimed two wickets apiece -- the latter having two off two, as they took full advantage of the seaming conditions

Australia ended the first powerplay at 52/4 and was in serious trouble.

It became worse in the 15th over when Marnus Labuschagne was run out after a terrible mixup with Maxwell, who had nudged the ball to midwicket and went for a needles single. Australia were reduced to 69/5.

Maxwell struck Mujeeb Ur Rahman for back-to-back fours in the 16th over and Stoinis swept a fuller delivery from Rashid Khan on his pads for a boundary before the Afghan spinner had his revenge. Stoinis went for a reverse sweep off a googly pitched on length, which spun past the bat and gloves to hit the front pad in line with the middle stump. Stoinis reviewed it but ultra-edge showed there was no bat or glove involved while the ball-tracker showed the delivery, which pitched outside off, would have gone on to hit the middle stump. Australia were reduced to 87/6 and the writing was clearly on the wall.

Maxwell, who hoicked Mohammed Nabi for a four and a six after hitting back-to-back fours a couple of overs before, continued to flourish, after completing his fifty off 51 deliveries, he raced to the next fifty in just 25 balls, with three fours and three sixes as he completed his hundred in 76 balls. Australia scored 200 runs in the 35th over and were looking on way to victory.

He gave Mujeeb Ur Rehman the same treatment in the 32nd over, smashing the bowler flat over his head for four and followed it up with a straight six on the next ball. As Australia crossed the 150-run mark, Maxwell celebrated it by hammering Mujeeb Ur Rehman for beautiful sixes off successive deliveries in the 29th over, gaining a stronghold on the match.

Earlier, Zadran held the Afghanistan innings together, scoring a 143-ball 129 as he remained unbeaten from start to finish, helping his team post a challenging 291/5 in their 50 overs.

Zadran kept Afghanistan's hopes alive as he raised three half-century partnerships in all -- adding 83 for the second wicket with Rahmat Shah (30), 52 for the third wicket with Hashmatullah Shahidi (28) and a brilliant unfinished partnership of 58 runs for the sixth wicket with Rashid Khan (35 not out off 18) as they blasted 75 runs off the last six overs.

This was Zadran's fifth century in ODIs in his 27th match but the first triple-figure score for his country in the World Cup.

However, Afghanistan found the going slow at the start with the Australian bowlers not giving them a lot of chances, managing only 46/1 in Power-play1. At the halfway mark (25th over), Afghanistan were 122/2, scoring at the rate of 4.88 per over. But they blasted 96 runs for the loss of two wickets in the last 10 overs to reach a defendable score.

After Rahmanullah Gurbaz (21) departed early despite getting a start, Zadran and Rahmat Shah repaired the innings with 83 off 100 balls with Zadran completing his fifty off 62 deliveries, hitting six boundaries. They mostly operated in singles, hitting the occasional boundary against a good bowling attack.

Zadran and Shah took the score past 100 runs before Glenn Maxwell, speared in a ball at the leg stump as Rahmat charged down the wicket, the Afghan batter failing to get enough bat and offering an easy catch to Hazlewood at long-on.

Zadran continued to hold the fort, adding 52 runs for the third wicket with Shahidi before the skipper became the third Afghanistan batter to fail to capitalise on a start and got out in the twenties.

Zadran went on to complete his century off 131 deliveries, hitting seven boundaries, as he continued to anchor the Afghanistan innings, surviving a run-out opportunity going for his 100th run. They lost Azmatullah Omarzai (22 off 18) and Mohammad Nabi (12 off 10) in quick succession before Rashid Khan joined Zadran and changed the complexion of the match.

Zadran picked up the scoring after completing his century and struck his first six off Adam Zampa, over mid-wicket, and then flicked Starc for a big one over deep mid-wicket. Rashid Khan struck a few lusty blows towards the end of the innings, going down to his knee to club Maxwell over midwicket for maximum and hitting the same bowler for a boundary going down the track to a wide one.

They added 58 runs for the unfinished sixth wicket in just 28 deliveries. Rashid struck Mitchell Starc for a couple of huge sixes in the final over, crouching low to swing it over deep square for the best shot off the innings in the penultimate ball of the innings as Afghanistan scored 75 runs off the last six overs.

But in the end, that proved insufficient as dropped catches  

Brief scores:

Afghanistan 291/5 in 50 overs (Ibrahim Zadran 129 not out; Rashid Khan 35 not out; Rahmat Shah 30; Josh Hazlewood 2-39) beat Australia 293/7 in 46.5 overs (Glenn Maxwell 201 not out; Rashid Khan 2-44, Naveen-ul-Haq 2-47, Azmatullah Omarzai 2-52) by three wickets.