In the 39th match of the ongoing ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, the world witnessed what was next to impossible and very much unimaginable. A cricket match transpired between Afghanistan and Australia at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium on November 7 (Tuesday). The match was crucial for both sides as Australia were one win away from assuredly securing a semi-final spot in the tournament, whereas Afghanistan needed the win to continue their hopes of making it into the semis alive.
Afghanistan’s team, led by captain Hasmatullah Shahidi, won the toss and chose to bat first. Afghanistan’s opening batsmen, Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran, made a solid start. As the match progressed, Afghanistan maintained a consistent pace and reached a total of 100 runs in 20.2 overs. A strong partnership between Rahmat Shah and Ibrahim Zadran resulted in an unbroken 58-run stand for the second wicket.
Afghanistan continued to perform well, with Ibrahim Zadran leading the charge. He made history by becoming the first Afghan player to score a century in World Cup history, a remarkable feat against the formidable Australian team. With some explosive batting from Rashid Khan towards the end, Afghanistan managed to score a total of 291 runs.
Australia’s chase began poorly as they lost Travis Head without scoring any runs. Mitchell Marsh’s aggressive innings also came to an end, leading to further setbacks. Azmat Omarzai took quick wickets by dismissing David Warner and Josh Inglis in consecutive deliveries, leaving Australia struggling at 49 for four.
Subsequently, Labuschagne, Stoinis, and Starc were also dismissed. However, Glenn Maxwell took matters into his own hands and turned the game around with a blistering 201 not out, helping Australia secure an improbable victory and shattering Afghanistan’s hopes. Many cricket pundits hailed the knock as the best ever in the history of the white-ball cricket.
Nonetheless, Afghanistan’s dream of reaching the World Cup 2023 semi-finals is still alive.
So, how can Afghanistan qualify for the semi-finals of the World Cup 2023? Before the match, the ideal scenario for Afghanistan was to win both of their remaining matches and secure a spot in the semi-finals. Now, they are set to face South Africa in Ahmedabad on November 10. A victory in this match will put them in a favourable position. However, it might not be sufficient. Afghanistan have a lower run rate compared to Pakistan and New Zealand, so to secure a semi-final spot, they need to defeat South Africa by a significant margin. Additionally, they must hope that both New Zealand and Pakistan lose their upcoming matches.
The remaining matches for the teams are as follows:
– 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.