Glenn Maxwell’s Unbelievable Century Defies Odds and Seals Australia’s Semi-Final Spot

In the world of sports, there are moments that defy comprehension, and Australian cricketer Glenn Maxwell has been the protagonist of many such occurrences. However, his performance in Mumbai on Tuesday night surpassed them all, as he embarked on an extraordinary sequence of improbable feats, leaving spectators in awe.

For decades, the realm of one-day cricket had witnessed few instances of double centuries. While Belinda Clark managed one against Denmark, Sachin Tendulkar earned the first double century in men’s cricket in 2010, though they all occurred in the first innings, often when the team was in a dominant position. The pressure was notably absent from those remarkable displays. What transpired in Mumbai was unprecedented—a double century in a run chase, where the team was trailing and desperately needed a single individual to secure victory.

Amid this extraordinary feat, the Afghanistan cricket team, once perceived as underdogs, emerged as formidable contenders in the World Cup. Having already secured four wins, they were on the brink of a fifth, setting their sights on a coveted spot in the semi-finals. Ibrahim Zadran, at just 21 years old, had notched Afghanistan’s first World Cup century, showcasing remarkable courage against formidable opposition. The prolific Rashid Khan, equally comfortable in Adelaide as on any other pitch, contributed quick runs towards the end of their innings. The target of 291 had become a considerable challenge, even before accounting for their bowling prowess.

The Australian innings began as a surge. Naveen-ul-Haq, the sole specialist fast bowler in a spin-heavy squad, dismissed Travis Head and Mitchell Marsh in quick succession. Azmatullah Omarzai, an all-rounder with seam skills, delivered a bewildering delivery to David Warner, resulting in a caught behind. Josh Inglis was caught at slip on the next ball, setting the stage for a potential hat-trick.

Glenn Maxwell narrowly escaped being the hat-trick victim, edging the ball. The chaos continued, with Marnus Labuschagne’s run-out following a moment of hesitation. Rashid Khan took charge, trapping Marcus Stoinis with an unusual reverse sweep. Mitchell Starc, baffled, refrained from reviewing a caught-behind decision he knew he hadn’t touched.

As Maxwell approached his century, he demonstrated remarkable composure, a contrast to his usual jubilant celebrations when reaching three figures. Exhausted and cramping, he battled through stifling humidity in Mumbai, where he had spent 50 overs in the field and bowled for ten. He only began his batting innings in the ninth over of Australia’s reply.

By the time he reached the 120s, cramps hindered his ability to run. He could no longer take two runs for shots into the deep, and singles were a struggle. Despite the agony, Maxwell remained undeterred. He continued to strike boundaries, reaching 150 while batting with sheer determination and hand-eye coordination. His legs refused to cooperate, but he adapted his stance to make contact with the ball. He placed the ball precisely through the outfield, evading fielders and still managing to find the boundary. A switch-hit pull shot for six, executed with astonishing precision, left onlookers in disbelief.

Entering the 44th over, Maxwell’s score had soared to 170, and his legs gradually regained some mobility. With assistance from Pat Cummins, they steered their partnership to an unprecedented 202 runs. Cummins contributed a modest 12 from 68 balls, while Maxwell, seemingly unburdened by the physical strain, reached an astounding 201 from 128 deliveries. Australia secured their spot in the semi-finals, and Afghanistan was left in disbelief, pondering the impossible turn of events. It was an extraordinary spectacle, defying all expectations, yet it unfolded before the eyes of those who witnessed it.