Never has team successfully chased a target of more than 280 at the Wankhede Stadium. And it looked to remain true on Tuesday evening when Australia were seven down for just 91 in their chase of 292. Afghanistan hence stood three wickets, just three, away from a biggest ever World Cup upset and an almost certain semifinal berth. Then Glenn Maxwell, single-handedly, pulled off an unthinkable heist to not just hand Australia a three-wicket win, but also guaranteed their place in the knockouts.
After Ibrahim Zadran became Afghanistan’s first-ever centurion in World Cups, Naveen-ul-Haq and Azmatullah Omarzai ripped through the top-order before Rashid Khan joined the bandwagon with strikes in successive overs as Afghanistan sniffed a famous win. But Maxwell crashed the party. He smashed an 201 not out, while stitching an unbeaten 202-run stand alongside captain Pat Cummins where he scored 179 runs, as Australia flipped the script.
World cricket went gaga over Maxwell’s performance at the Wankhede as the likes of Ben Stokes and legendary batters in Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag hailed it as the “best ODI knock ever”.
Here are some of the reactions…
What added to the greatness of the knock was Maxwell’s willingness to push all boundaries. The humid conditions in Mumbai had got the better of him midway through the iconic innings as he was seen hobbling his way through for singles before going down on the ground, clinching his thigh in sheer agony. Yet he battled through. With minimal foot movement, Maxwell completed his 150 before racing away towards 201* as Australia secured their semifinal ticket.
“It would have been nice if it was a chanceless knock, but I had my chances, to make the most of it tonight was something I can be proud of. Amazing, after the first two games, people were quick to write us off. The belief was always there (as a team), after today, it would have gone a bit higher,” he said in the post-match presentation after collected the Player of the Match award.