Glenn Maxwell’s marvelous double ton sees Australia qualify for semis
Glenn Maxwell shone bright for Australia as the five-time champions qualified for the 2023 World Cup semi-finals in some style, with a three-wicket win over Afghanistan at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday.
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Chasing a target of 292, Australia were once reeling at 91/7, but Maxwell rose up to the occasion with an aggressive batting display to guide his team to a miraculous victory. In the end, Afghanistan were left heartbroken as Maxwell almost single-handedly took away the match from the Afghans.
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Maxwell came into bat as early as in the ninth over, when Australia’s hopes were in tatters. Not only that, Azmatullah Omarzai was on a hat-trick when Maxwell came into bat. Maxwell had come into bat at number six, following the dismissal of Josh Inglis. Australia were 49/4 at that time. In the very first ball that Maxwell faced, there was a caught behind appeal from the Afghanistan team after Maxwell got the inside edge off his bat en route to the wicketkeeper. Afghanistan decided to review this, but replays showed that the ball did not carry to the keeper, since it was bouncing just above the stumps.
Maxwell did get a reprieve, but little did the Afghans know what was to come. However, it was not long until Maxwell got mixed up with Marnus Labuschagne in the 15th over, when the latter was run-out at the striker’s end.
Problems went from bad to worse for the Aussies after Rashid Khan struck twice between the 17th and 19th overs, to remove Marcus Stoinis and Mitchell Starc.
In came Pat Cummins at number nine, and all the Australia skipper had to do is be there for Maxwell at the other end as a supportive figure while the latter did all the scoring with the bat.
Maxwell, meanwhile, could have seen his innings end at 33 had Mujeeb Ur Rahman caught an easy catch at short fine leg. That was another escape for the Aussies, and a costly error from the Afghans.
Maxwell then changed gears, shifting to a more aggressive come-what-may approach against the Afghans, who were almost clueless midway through Maxwell’s knock.
From slog sweeps to straight drives, there was hardly anything that Maxwell could not do. He took on Noor Ahmad with ease, clearing the midwicket fence on occasions while doing the same against Mohammad Nabi once.
Maxwell would eventually get to his century in just 76 deliveries, with a single off Noor Ahmad in the 32nd over. And Maxwell would only take 52 deliveries for his double century, with a humongous six over deep midwicket off Mujeeb’s ball in the 47th over that eventually sealed the win for Australia.
Although the knock was easy on the eye, it was far from it for Maxwell. Maxwell hardly moved his feet due to cramps after fielding for the entirety of the Afghanistan innings. In the 41st over, Maxwell was in some pain and had to be attended by the physio as Adam Zampa waited near the boundary line.
But, after a brief look by the physio, Maxwell was good to go again, almost as though his best was yet to come. Maxwell het Azmatullah for two boundaries in the 42nd. In the 44th, Maxwell again punished Azmatullahwith two fours, and a six that was slapped over deep third.
Maxwell was into his 170s by the end of the over, and Australia were nearly there. In the 47th over of the chase, Australia needed 21 runs off 24 balls. Mujeeb bowled that over. After a dot in the first ball of the over, the 35-year-old went over deep midwicket for a maximum, before another six in the next ball and then slamming past cover for a four.
Australia needed just five runs off 20 deliveries, and Maxwell finished it off in Maxwell style, with a heave over midwicket that would help him create history.
To put it into context, Maxwell set numerous records on Tuesday, but the most notable one was going past Shane Watson’s (185 runs) record of registering the highest individual score in ODIs by an Australian.
In the end, it was indeed a spectacular contest, and surely an innings of a lifetime, as Maxwell quite literally brought the Australian cricket team back from the dead.
Brief scores: Afghanistan 291/5 from 50 overs (Ibrahim Zadran 129*, Josh Hazlewood 2/39) lost to Australia 293/7 in 46.5 overs (Glenn Maxwell 201*; Rashid Khan 2/44)
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