Mumbai, Nov 7: In a must win battle against the mighty Aussies, opting to bat first, Afghanistan scored a fighting 291/5 in the 39th match of the ICC ODI World Cup 2023 at the Wankhede Stadium, here on Tuesday.
Chasing a 292 target, Australia were reeling at 89/6 in 17 overs, with six of their batsmen back in pavilion. Travis Head (0), David Warner (18), Mitchell Marsh (24), Jos Inglish (0), Marnus Labuschagne (14) and Marcus Stoinis (6) were sent back early by a charged-up Afghanistan side, who displayed exceptional skills of spin and pace bowling, supplemented with aggressive fielding.
Afghanistan batting mainstay Ibrahim Zadran scored a gutsy century (129 in 143 balls, with 8 boundaries and 3 sixes) to keep his side's semi-finals hopes alive. Though, he was expected to accelerate further after reaching his landmark three-figure score, but the Aussies did not allow him to score more freely in the slog overs.
Winning the toss, Afghanistan skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi seemed to be clear in his plan against the five-time ODI World Cup champions Australia. The Asian side wanted to put runs on the board first and then test the opposition batters with their spin-heavy attack.
At the start, Afghan opener Rahamanullah Gurbaz was dismissed for 21 in 25 balls, caught by Mitchell Starc at deep mid wicket, as right arm pacer Josh Hazlewood struck.
At the of end of 8 overs, Afghanistan got their first jolt with Gurbaz back in pavilion and the score-card reflecting 38/1.
Rahmat Shah and Ibrahim Zadran then shared a 83-run partnership for the vital second wicket. But Rahmat while trying to hit offie Glenn Maxwell over long-off, was caught by Josh Hazlewood in the deep.
Rahmat made 30 in 44 balls with a solitary hit to the fence. With his dismissal, Afghanistan were 121/2 in 24.4 overs.
Afghan skipper Shahidi was clean bowled by Mitchell Starc. The Aussie left-arm pacer once again tested success with his trademark lethal yorker. Shahidi scored 26 in 43 balls.
Shahidi and Zadran had a 52 runs steady partnership for the third wicket. The seasoned batters duo ensured that Afghanistan middle order does not crumble under pressure before the upbeat Australians, who had three consecutive wins before the Tuesday tussle.
Azmatullah Omarzai's 18-ball 22 runs cameo ended after he was sent back caught by Maxwell, as Aussie leg-spinner Adam Zampa finally got a scalp in his 9th over.
Josh Hazlewood returned to attack and cleaned up Mohd Nabi (12 in 10 balls).
In the final overs, Rashid Khan played an entertaining unbeaten 35-run innings in just 18 balls. He once again proved his mettle as an utility batter lower down the order.
Overall, an impressive Afghan show with the willow. Australians on the other hand, just could not make inroads into the Afghan middle order, as Ibrahim Zadran stood like a rock resisting all their efforts.
Hazlewood (2/39 in 9 overs) was the most successful Aussie bowler on the day. Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa and Glenn Maxwell claimed one wicket each.
Hashmatullah Shahidi (captain), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wicketkeeper), Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Azmatullah Omarzai, Ikram Alikhil, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad and Naveen-ul-Haq.
Pat Cummins (captain) David Warner, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, , Marnus Labuschagne, Josh Inglis (wicketkeeper), Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa and Josh Hazlewood.