Afghanistan seal first ever win over Australia with exceptional all-round display

Sports Sunday 23/June/2024 08:31 AM
Afghanistan seal first ever win over Australia with exceptional all-round display

Afghanistan have spoiled Australia's party, collecting their first ever win over the cricketing powerhouse.

It ends the Aussies' impressive unbeaten run at the ICC Men's T20 World Cup and the two teams are now neck-and-neck to join India through to the next phase of the tournament.

Australia's skipper Mitch Marsh won the toss and opted to field first -- a decision that may well have proven fatal.

Afghanistan took little time to make Marsh question whether he’d made the right decision.

The Afghans had a plan and it was executed out of the gate, staying patient and precise in the Powerplay. Scoring was feast or famine, a mixture of dots and boundaries, but importantly the Afghanistan openers didn’t give away their wickets.

Six boundaries led the pair to 40/0 through the first six overs, but the end of the Powerplay didn’t see scoring soften.

Afghanistan made drinks still with all 10 wickets in hand, at 64/0 at the innings mid-point.

On a pitch that was expected to suits spinners, Agar and Adam Zampa were attacked through the middle overs. That was highlighted by an expensive 13th from Zampa that included two boundaries - one on a misfield - a close LBW shout and a missed stumping opportunity that keeper Matthew Wade failed to convert.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz reached his 50 in the 15th over and then Ibrahim Zadran did the same five balls later, as Australia’s body language presented worrying signs for the tournament heavyweight.

Gurbaz went six and then out in the 16th over, as Marcus Stoinis delivered Australia’s long-awaited breakthrough scalp. And that turned the tide.

Zampa collected two wickets next over, including the crucial removal of Zadran, leaving the Afghans three down in the blink of an eye. The 18th over also went Australia’s way, as Pat Cummins conceded just four runs and picked up the wicket of Rashid Khan to round it out.

Having completed an unlikely hat-trick against Bangladesh, Cummins did the seemingly impossible and collected a second in as many games, giving the Aussies momentum at the close. He finished with figures of 28/3.

The Aussies dropped several catches and leaked runs defending the rope, execution that threatened to prove costly, leaving th

Khan’s thorough homework and unsettling plans continued with the fresh ball, pivoting from in-form star Fazalhaq Farooqi to Naveen-ul-Haq. And it paid immediate dividends, with Naveen bowling Aussie opener Travis Head third delivery.

Naveen then did it again in his second over, removing Marsh with a slower ball, placing huge pressure on Australia.

It brought Glenn Maxwell to the crease – the hero in the teams’ ODI World Cup battle last year. Maxwell produced two nerve-settling boundaries in the fifth over, but the wicket of David Warner gave the Afghans firm ascendancy at the conclusion of the Powerplay. Australia had it all to do, stuck at 33/3 at the six-over mark.

Maxwell incited some déjà vu in the seventh over with two strong boundaries, before the Aussies reached 50 at the eight-over mark – consistent with the speed of Afghanistan’s first 10 overs batting.

Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis lifted Australia to 70/3 at the mid-point of the innings, before Stoinis fell (11 off 17) just after drinks.

Tim David (2 off 4) was also out cheaply, but a Maxwell maximum to end the 13th over took the danger man to a half-century off 35 balls.

Just as Afghanistan lost marginal hope, Gulbadin Naib stepped up to the plate and tempted Maxwell into one outside the off stump, which was superbly snatched by Noor Ahmad behind point.

It was all on the hat-trick hero Cummins when Wade (5 off 7) top-edged an attempted sweep, leaving the Aussies at 108/7, needing 41 runs off 29 balls. But he couldn't translate his form with the ball, swinging and missing to leave the Aussies in an even bigger hole with three overs to go and needing 36.

Afghanistan produced a masterclass in the field, converting every half chance into a scalp, which ultimately proved the difference. The wicket of Zampa trying to hit long down the ground had Australia all out for 127, 22 runs short of victory.

The Afghans sealed one of the team’s most famous ever victories – their first over Australia.