Glenn Maxwell Hits Epic Double Ton As Australia Break Afghanistan Hearts

Glenn Maxwell‘s stunning 201 not out took Australia into the semi-finals of the World Cup as the five-time champions grabbed a sensational three-wicket victory from the jaws of defeat against Afghanistan in Mumbai on Tuesday. At 91-7, trailing by 292, Australia were poised to join title holders England, 1996 champions Pakistan and 1992 winners Sri Lanka as another notable Afghanistan scalp at this World Cup. Crucial though recalled all-rounder Maxwell was dropped soon after on 33 when Mujeeb Ur Rahman somehow floors a simple chance of short fine leg by other spinner Noor Ahmad.

“It would have been nice if it was unlucky, I’ve lived a very charmed life out there,” said Maxwell, aptly nicknamed ‘The Big Show’. He made Afghanistan pay with a stunning innings of 128 balls with 21 fours and 10 sixes as he became just the third batsman behind New Zealand’s Martin Guptill and the West Indies’ Chris Gayle to score a World Cup double century.

Maxwell finished the game in style with almost three overs to spare as he slammed Mujeeb for another six. The 35-year-old’s highest ODI score was just his fourth century in 136 matches at this level, but second in the tournament after he scored the fastest hundred in men’s World Cup history in just 40 balls against Holland.

Australia’s captain Pat Cummins was 12 not out but played his part by holding on to an unbroken eighth-wicket stand of 202. There was another twist late in a dramatic encounter when Maxwell, on 146, suffered a violent spasm as he bounced through for a single.

But after treatment on the field, a still struggling Maxwell continued to pulverize Afghanistan’s attack with a dazzling array of shots.

‘I feel shocking’

“Awful, I feel shocking. It was quite hot when we were on the track, I haven’t done a lot of high intensity training in the heat. It got to me today, I was lucky to last until the end” said Maxwell.

His repertoire of shots included an extraordinary reverse hit for six off the paceman Azmatullah Omarzai — earlier denied a hat-trick by Maxwell.

Afghanistan remain in the last four despite this defeat, but they will need to beat second-placed South Africa and hope other results go their way to qualify for the knockout stages.

It seemed that the night would belong Ibrahim Zadran, whose 129 not out in a total of 291-5 was the first hundred by an Afghanistan batsman at a World Cup. That left Australia to better their previous highest match winning score of 287 against New Zealand in a quarter-final in 1996 in Chennai

But opens Travis Head fell for a duck, caught behind from a superb Naveen-ul-Haq delivery that seamed away sharply where the paceman had too Mitchell Marsh lbw for 24.

Australia’s 43-2 then became 49-4 as Omarzai struck with successive deliveries, pure bowling veteran opener David Warner followed the left-hander’s nasty heave across the line before Josh Inglis edged to first slip.

Maxwell survived the hat-trick and fell short from the wicketkeeper Ikram Alikhil. Australia were 69-5 when a mix-up with Maxwell saw Marnus Labuschagne run out of Rahmat Shah‘s direct hit from midwicket before leg-spinner Rashid Khan was removed Marcus Stoinis and Mitchell Starc as the crowd roared Afghanistan on.

But then came Maxwell’s big reprieve, with Australia 112-7. “Really disappointed. Cricket is a fun game, it was unbelievable,” said the Afghanistan skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi.

Earlier, Zadran opened Afghanistan to their highest World Cup total, topping their 288 they made against the West Indies at Headingley in 2019.

Australia initially kept Afghanistan at bay after losing the toss, albeit struggling for wickets with Zadran completing his fifth hundred in 27 ODIs, off 131 balls, including seven fours.

However, Zadran accelerated after going to three figures with Rashid making a fine 35 not out during a quickfire unbroken stand of 58.

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