Glenn Maxwell Knock Against Afghanistan
Rivals and teammates agree that Australia’s victory against South Africa in a close match earns them a semi-final spot in the series.
“Hit a six over third man, can’t move. He exists in a strange and distinct realm.
It doesn’t take a long time for Australian skipper Pat Cummins to realize that Glenn Maxwell is a “freak.” But even then, the captain of Australia could not believe what had happened as he witnessed the “greatest ODI innings.”
Not just Cummins remained to feel that way.
Afghanistan’s English coach Jonathan Trott, who has lost a lot of these kinds of comebacks against Australia, praised the innings as “world-class”. Their lucky charm, Rashid Khan, approached a limping Maxwell and embraced him.
Trott, Rashid, and the other Afghanistan players must be feeling really dejected in their hearts. The setting was set for them to achieve their greatest victory to yet. The ultimate affirmation, should it ever be required, of their arrival on the grand platform. And a massive leap to the semifinals of the World Cup.
All of that did not occur. Rather, they were the victims of an innings that will live on in cricket legend.
Australia was targeted by Afghanistan at 292. At 91 for 7, they had them pinned. And then something occurred to Maxwell, who turned the run chase into a farce. Despite being injured and unable to even stand, he managed to score an undefeated 201 to help Australia win by three wickets and guarantee their place in the semifinals.
It’s difficult to pinpoint when the encounter between Australia and Afghanistan evolved into a full-fledged Maxwell spectacle. A useful benchmark is the second ball of the 22nd over.
After Australia fell behind by four, Afghanistan’s par score appeared to be the highest point that could not be overcome. Additionally, Maxwell’s leg was declared off before a delivery by Noor Ahmad by the umpire.
Afghanistan started to rejoice as though they had already won the game. The Australian dugout was sitting there lamenting their loss of dignity. And believing everything was finished, Maxwell started to march back. Then, as the review ran, he cast a quick peek toward the stadium screen. The ball pitched in line with the leg stump after missing the inner edge. However, tracking the ball indicated that it was rebounding over the stumps.
Maxwell turned fast around and went back to the crease. After three balls, he was given another chance to live, but this time Mujeeb ur Rahman dropped him at short fine-leg. All he needed were the two lifelines. And Afghanistan lost the plot, after having demonstrated perfect emotional balance throughout the tournament thus far.
Maxwell went insane, hitting a total of 21 fours and 10 sixes, despite being unable to walk, much less run, for half of his inning due to cramp. By facing 68 balls for 12 runs, Cummins held the other end of the bat and made sure Australia did not lose any more wickets.
Compared to all of his teammates, Maxwell seemed to be batting on a different pitch under other circumstances since they were unable to handle the swing that the Afghan bowlers were able to produce from the surface.
At Wankhede, the devils emerge under the lights at night.
The pursuing team’s scores at the conclusion of the first Powerplay in the three games played here prior to Tuesday were 67/4, 35/3, and 14/6.
It looked like Australia would defy the trend when David Warner hit Mujeeb through the covers with the first ball of the innings. But the previous champions were in trouble at 52/4 by the time the tenth over was delivered. It seems that they would never fully recover.
The Afghanistan players circled the injured Australians like eagles, sensing blood. And Australia appeared weak for once.
Naveen-ul-Haq was the one who started Australia’s unexpected collapse. The speedster attempted to poke fun at the Australian team two days prior when they declined to play them in a bilateral series, claiming that the Taliban was violating human rights. “Human rights or two points?” Naveen read the barb.
History indicates that it’s never a good idea to agitate the Australians, particularly in front of a significant game. But Naveen lived up to his lofty words.
His second delivery hit the ideal line, angling at the left-handed Travis Head and then swinging away from the off-stump, just enough to get the outside edge that wicketkeeper Ikram Alikhil securely held on to.
After a few overs, Naveen pitched the ball full, causing it to nip back and smash into Mitchell Marsh’s pads after beating the inside edge. The Afghan players were so sure that it would smash into the middle and leg stumps that they didn’t even wait for the umpire to raise his finger. Marsh appeared to confirm their suspicion.
Australia was suddenly faced with a mountain to climb. And there was going to be no break.
Even more exquisitely designed were the third and fourth wickets, this time by Azmatullah Omarzai. Playing in just his 20th ODI, the 23-year-old bowler forced Warner to defend with his steady line and length around off-stump, which placed him on the back foot.
The Australians were further subdued by the maiden seventh over and, when Omarzai returned to bowl the ninth over, he castled Warner with a ball that swung in sharply and was fuller. The following ball he got to swing the opposite way caught Josh Inglis’ bat by the outside edge, and Ibrahim Zadran made no errors at slip.
It was no longer discussed whether Rashid Khan’s six-hitting spree was too little, too late, or whether Ibrahim had been too slow to reach his hundred earlier in the day after Marnus Labuschagne’s desperate dive failed to keep him from being run out, sending Australia further down the drain. Rather, the focus was on the amount Australia would lose.
Injured nearly retired
Maybe, as Trott later acknowledged, Afghanistan’s players went a bit too far and failed to dismiss Maxwell.
With about eight overs remaining, the big hitter fell to the ground, giving Cummins cause for concern that he would have to retire injured. Before the physiotherapist persuaded Maxwell to continue, he even asked Adam Zampa to warm up. After that, Australia was content to let Maxwell deal with boundaries and stopped running in between wickets.
And he opened his arms wide and grinned for the first time when, on the fifth delivery of the 47th over, Maxwell shifted the leg he could hardly move and launched an incredible heave to send the ball flying into the stands over deep square-leg. All Cummins could do at the other end was stand and cheer. What an oddball show. And to see it, he had the greatest seat in the house.