Mumbai: Severely cramping and hardly able to move, Glenn Maxwell played one of the greatest one-day innings, hitting a 128-ball 201 not out to help Australia grab a three-wicket victory from the jaws of defeat against Afghanistan in Match 39 and sealed a semifinal spot for his team in the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup at the Wankhede Stadium here.
Australia looked like slumping to an embarrassing defeat, reduced to 91/7 in the 19th over, chasing Afghanistan’s score of 291/5 built on the country’s first century in the World Cup by Ibrahim Zadran (129 not off 143 balls) and a breezy 18-ball 35 by Rashid Khan.
But Maxwell and skipper Pat Cummins raised 202 runs off 170 balls for the 8th wicket partnership, Maxwell scoring 179 of those runs and Cummins remained undefeated with 12 off 68 balls.
It was a sensational innings from Maxwell, who held the fort with Australia reduced to 91/7, getting involved in a run out Marnus Labuschagne. With Australia needing 21 runs off the last four overs, Maxwell blasted an amazing 22 runs off four deliveries in the 47th over, barely able to move inside the crease.
Their 202-run unfinished partnership was the highest for Australia for the 8th wicket, bettering by a huge margin the 119-run stand between Paul Reiffel and Shane Warne against South Africa in 1993-94. It is also the third double-century partnership in World Cups and the first in India.
In the end, Maxwell blazed an undefeated 201 off 128 deliveries, hitting 21 boundaries and 10 maximums in an amazing inning that took Australia to 12 points from eight matches and confirmed their place in the semifinals as the third-placed team.
Afghanistan had themselves to blame as they dropped two catches of Maxwell and also had an LBW opportunity going against them.
Australia were in deep trouble, reduced to 87/6 in the 15th over after seamers Naveen-ul-Haq and Azmatullah Omarzai landed early blows, claiming a couple of wickets each, and Rashid Khan spun a web around the Australian batters to claim two scalps.
Maxwell, who survived an lbw chance on review and dropped chances at 27 and 33 (by Mujeeb Ur Rahman), was also lucky to see a few edges land in gaps as he scored a brilliant century, making full use of the nine lives to guide Australia to an improbable victory.
He and skipper Pat Cummins raised 100 runs for the 8th wicket partnership off 89 balls, Maxwell scoring 86 of those runs and Cummins only six, with eight extras. Australia were 199/7 in the 34th over and up and running.
With Australia needing 47 from 42 balls, Maxwell hammered 16 runs off Azmatullah, hitting two superb fours and a brilliant six. He then clubbed a six off Naveen-ul-Haq in the next over to make it a manageable 26 off 30 balls.
Earlier, Zadran held the Afghanistan innings together, scoring a 143-ball 129 as he remained unbeaten from start to finish, helping his team post a challenging 291/5 in their 50 overs.