New Delhi: In a high-scoring encounter, Australia pulled off a remarkable chase against Afghanistan to seal their spot in the semi-finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023. Glenn Maxwell played a sensational knock of unbeaten 201 runs in 128 balls, the highest individual score by an Australian in World Cups, to guide his team to a three-wicket victory with 19 balls to spare. Australia reached 293 for 7 in 46.5 overs, chasing a challenging target of 292 set by Afghanistan, who rode on Ibrahim Zadran’s maiden World Cup century.
The match played at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, was a must-win for both teams to qualify for the knockouts. Afghanistan, who had won four out of their eight matches, opted to bat first after winning the toss and posted a competitive total of 291 for 5 in 50 overs. Zadran, the 21-year-old opener, became the first batsman from his country to score a hundred in the World Cup and also the first to do so against Australia in any format. He remained unbeaten on 129 off 143 balls, hitting eight fours and three sixes. He shared an 83-run stand for the second wicket with Rahmat Shah (30) and a 64-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Rashid Khan, who smashed 35 not out off 18 balls with two fours and three sixes.
Australia’s chase got off to a disastrous start as they lost four wickets for 49 runs in the first 10 overs. Naveen Ul Haq (3 for 39) and Azmatullah Umarzai (2 for 58) did the early damage, removing Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, David Warner and Josh Inglis in quick succession. Marnus Labuschagne was run out for 14, while Marcus Stoinis and Mitchell Starc fell cheaply to Rashid Khan (2 for 60), leaving Australia reeling at 91 for 7 in the 18th over.
However, Maxwell, who came in at number six, refused to give up and single-handedly turned the tide in Australia’s favor. He counter-attacked the Afghan bowlers with his trademark shots, hitting 21 fours and 10 sixes in his blistering innings. He added 202 runs for the unbroken eighth wicket with Pat Cummins, who played a supporting role with 12 not out off 68 balls. Maxwell reached his second ODI hundred off 77 balls and then accelerated further, reaching his double hundred off 125 balls. He hit the winning runs with a four off Rashid Khan in the 47th over, completing a remarkable comeback for Australia.
Maxwell was adjudged the player of the match for his record-breaking knock, which was also the second-highest individual score in World Cup history, behind Martin Guptill’s 237 not out against West Indies in 2015. He also became the fourth batsman to score a double hundred in World Cups, after Sachin Tendulkar, Chris Gayle, and Guptill. Australia, who have won six out of their nine matches, secured the second spot in the points table with 12 points and joined England, who topped the table with 14 points, in the semi-finals. Afghanistan, despite putting up a spirited performance, finished fifth with eight points and bowed out of the tournament.