ODI World Cup 2023: After Maxwell mayhem, can Afghanistan still qualify for semifinals?
Afghanistan's pursuit of a spot in the semi-finals of the 2023 World Cup remains a possibility, and we outline the steps they must take to achieve it.
Afghanistan's quest to reach the semi-finals of the 2023 World Cup remains viable. So, what's the path to securing a semi-final spot? Initially, Afghanistan's best-case scenario involved winning their remaining matches to secure a semi-final berth. Their next challenge is against South Africa in Ahmedabad on November 10. A victory in this match would certainly improve their standing, but it might not be enough. Given their lower run rate compared to Pakistan and New Zealand, Afghanistan must secure a significant margin of victory against South Africa to enhance their chances. Furthermore, they must rely on New Zealand and Pakistan losing their upcoming matches.
In the 39th match of the ongoing ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023, Afghanistan faced Australia in a critical encounter. The match took place on November 7 at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium. For Australia, a win would have almost guaranteed their spot in the semi-finals, while Afghanistan needed the victory to keep their semi-final aspirations alive.
Afghanistan, led by captain Hasmatullah Shahidi, won the toss and opted to bat first. The opening duo of Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran provided a solid foundation. As the match progressed, Afghanistan maintained a steady pace, reaching a total of 100 runs in 20.2 overs. A strong partnership between Rahmat Shah and Ibrahim Zadran resulted in an unbroken 58-run partnership for the second wicket.
Afghanistan continued to perform admirably, with Ibrahim Zadran leading the way. He made history by becoming the first Afghan player to score a century in World Cup history, a remarkable achievement against the formidable Australian team. With some explosive batting from Rashid Khan in the final overs, Afghanistan managed to post a total of 291 runs.
Australia's pursuit got off to a rocky start, losing Travis Head without scoring. Mitchell Marsh's aggressive innings was cut short, leading to further setbacks. Azmat Omarzai claimed quick wickets by dismissing David Warner and Josh Inglis in successive deliveries, leaving Australia reeling at 49 for four.
Subsequently, Labuschagne, Stoinis, and Starc were also dismissed. However, Glenn Maxwell took control of the game with an astonishing 201 not out, guiding Australia to an unlikely victory and shattering Afghanistan's hopes. Many cricket experts lauded Maxwell's performance as one of the greatest in the history of white-ball cricket.
Upcoming matches for the teams include:
Afghanistan vs. South Africa on November 10 in Ahmedabad.
New Zealand vs. Sri Lanka on November 9 in Bangalore.
Pakistan vs. England on November 11 in Kolkata.