MUMBAI: Glenn Maxwell’s marathon 201-run knock lifted Australia to edge spirited Afghanistan by three wickets to qualify for the ICC World Cup 2023 semi-finals.
Set to chase 292, Australia found themselves in deep trouble as Afghanistan bowlers ran through their top and middle order to restrict them to 91/7 in the 19th over.
Coming out to bat at number six, Glenn Maxwell played a sensational knock – aided by a couple of missed chances by Afghanistan fielders – and powered Australia to pull off an astounding victory with 19 balls to spare.
The right-handed batter put together an unbeaten and one-sided partnership with skipper Pat Cummins, who scored a responsible 12 runs. His 68-ball knock featured only one boundary.
Glenn Maxwell, who battled through cramps, smashed 21 boundaries and 10 sixes on his way to an unbeaten 201 in just 128 deliveries.
His 201-run knock marked the first double century by an Australian batter in ODI cricket and is also the highest individual score by an Aussie in a run chase.
For Afghanistan, Azmatullah Omarzai, Naveen-ul-Haq and Rashid bagged two wickets each.
Ibrahim Zadran started the innings cautiously after his captain opted to bat, however, he lost his opening partner Rahmanullah Gurbaz (21) in the eighth over with a meagre 38 runs on the board.
He was joined by Rahmat Shah and together they added 83 runs for the second wicket to drag Afghanistan’s total to 121 before Shah was dismissed by Glenn Maxwell.
Rahmat Shah played a cautious knock of 30 runs from 44 balls, with a solitary boundary.
Skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi assisted Zadran in knitting a 52-run partnership for the third wicket but he was cast by Mitchell Starc after scoring 26 off 43.
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Ibrahim Zadran held on to one end, amidst Australia’s clinical bowling, losing partner after partner and completing his fourth ODI hundred.
Rashid Khan joined the fray in the 46th over, with the scoreboard reading 233, he along with settled Zadran added 58 valuable runs from only 28 balls to help lift Afghanistan’s total to 291 in their allocated 50 overs.
Rashid Khan’s unbeaten 35-run cameo featured two boundaries and three sixes from 18 balls.
Meanwhile, Zadran finished his innings unbeaten at 129 runs from 143 balls with the help of eight boundaries and three sixes.
Australia’s Josh Hazlewood picked two wickets, while Starc, Maxwell and Adam Zampa managed one wicket each.