Australia v Afghanistan: Cricket World Cup 2023 – live | Cricket World Cup 2023
Alright, the players are back on the field! Australia have already qualified for the semi-finals so the 291 required is the perfect challenge for their batting group: a record World Cup chase (for them), and the highest ever to win after dark at Mumbai. For that task, Travis Head and David Warner are racing to the middle. Mubeej, the genius Afghan spinner and powerplay specialist, has the ball. PLAY!
Nicely summed up, JP. G’day all. Specialist TV umpires – they’re going to have to happen soon. It’s Chris Gaffaney today with Radhid/Stoinis, but it was Ashan Raza earlier in the tournament and it’ll be someone else next week. Brilliant umps, one and all, but the application of close-ups and audio waves isn’t the same gig.
I know this is a topic that gets people angry, and I appreciate that I’m investing a lot in the VAR/bunker model, but I sincerely believe that a team of audio-visual specialists, who work on every TV game between them, will end up landing at a happier, more consistent place for players and spectators, while saving the blushes of the those in the middle, who can crack on doing what’s taken them to the top.
What an afternoon for Afghanistan. Their highest score in world cup history. Their first centurion in world cup history. And a defendable total that gives them a fighting chance of one of the all-time upsets in the history of the sport – and possibly even passage to the semi-finals.
It was all built off the back of the patience of Ibrahim Zadran who stroked 129 runs from 143 balls, with his presence ensuring his side always had someone to bat around. Rahmanullah Gurbaz hit a brisk 25 at the top, then after Rahmat Shah (30) and Hashmatullah Shahidi (26) failed to kick on, the next three batters all scored at better than a run-a-ball. Azmatullah Omarzai (22) set the tone. Mohammad Nabi’s 12 included a six, and then Rashid Khan’s violent 18-ball 35 saw his side to the interval with all the momentum.
On a decent batting pitch Australia’s bowling and fielding kept the score in check for 45 overs, until the late assault. Josh Hazlewood (2/39) was the pick, with Mitchell Starc (1/70) again out of sorts.
After winning the toss Afghanistan batted first in part to maximise the conditions for their four spinners. There was also the benefit of not having to field in ferocious heat. After an energy sapping 50 overs in the Mumbai haze, Australia must now control a chase facing an attack stuffed with the kind of bowlers they are prone to struggle against.
A fascinating chase is in store. Adam Collins will bring you all the action.
Game on in Mumbai.
50th over: Afghanistan 291-5 (Zadran 129, Rashid 35) Starc begins an over with a full toss to Rashid again – and this time it goes for runs – four of them, edged over short third. Then the best bowler in modern ODI cricket is smacked back over his head for six! Rashid is a fighter. SIX MORE! Oh boy. Rashid clears his front leg, then crouches, then somehow manipulates a forehand smash of a stroke over square leg!
Incredible finish for Afghanistan. They close their 50 overs on 291 – their highest world cup score.
49th over: Afghanistan 275-5 (Zadran 129, Rashid 19) Following those couple of sixes and that reviewed catch, there’s suddenly some tension out there in Mumbai. Cummins reads the room and brings himself on, bowling a superb mixture of short balls and cutters for three deliveries to keep Afghanistan to just a single. Zadran then gambles on ball four, picks the slower ball and launches it over cow corner for six! He follows that up with a classic square drive for four more! Brilliant batting. 14 off the penultimate over. Afghanistan have something for their spinners to bowl to.
48th over: Afghanistan 261-5 (Zadran 117, Rashid 18) Starc gets away with a full toss to Rashid. Rashid gets away with bunting that full toss short of Head at long-off. It’s a rotation of strike that works gloriously as Zadran helps a leg-stump half volley into the grandstand with sumptuous timing. Rashid gets himself back in the action, whereupon he doesn’t aim strokes at the ball, he tries to obliterate it from existence. The first bash is fielded well in the ring at cover. The second flies off a thick edge all the way to the offside sweeper, Stoinis, who runs in, dives forward, and takes a beautiful catch. Of course it is sent upstairs and replayed to death, each angle and slo-mo making it look less out. Umpire Gaffaney then adopts the position of a prosecutor trying to find the “not out” frame. Eventually the decision is not out. What a mess.
47th over: Afghanistan 252-5 (Zadran 110, Rashid 16) Maxwell comes on to bowl so Rashid Khan removes his helmet and makes no secret of his intent to slog to leg. “I don’t like the look of that,” says Ricky Ponting as the ball is mullered over midwicket. Rashid then feints to do the same again but out-Maxwells Maxwell, somehow getting enough bat on a ball fired outside off from around the wicket to clear the cover ring and skip away for four.
Everything Afghanistan have done so far has been predicated on a late-innings assault. And here it is!
46th over: Afghanistan 236-5 (Zadran 109, Rashid 2) Nine runs and the wicket from the over. Afghanistan are close to posting something reasonable.
Hooray! Six more for Afghanistan! This time it’s Nabi, pulling Hazlewood with a sweetly timed swipe.
Boooooo! Then he’s bowled neck and crop swinging all over a straight one.
45th over: Afghanistan 227-4 (Zadran 108, Nabi 6) Freed from the pressure of reaching his ton, Zadran gives himself room and deposits Zampa over long-on. The leg-spinner’s final over goes for 11 all-up and he ends with 1/58 from his 10.
44th over: Afghanistan 216-4 (Zadran 101, Nabi 2) Back to Hazlewood from the pacer end and he hits his customary line and length, which makes Zadran’s battle to reach his century torturous. On 99 he faces two dots, then legs it after dabbing into the covers. A direct hit and he’s in despair. But the shy misses and it’s jubilation for Afghanistan’s first world cup centurion! What a moment in the country’s sporting history.
43rd over: Afghanistan 212-4 (Zadran 98, Nabi 1) A wicket and just three runs from Zampa’s ninth over. A record-equalling sixth three-wicket haul in a row looks unlikely, but he’s done a good job again.
“I’m so in love with Afghanistan,” beams Dean Kinsella. “All the (mostly Australian) tv commentary is that the scoring is too slow. I don’t see it like that. Plenty of wickets left, a couple of monster overs, 300 is in reach.”
Azmat continues his late innings assault but he plonks Zampa straight down long-off’s throat, screaming in primal rage as he watches Maxwell hold a simple catch.
42nd over: Afghanistan 209-3 (Zadran 96, Azmat 22) Afghanistan try to maintain their intensity against Cummins but the bowling and fielding is too good. Stoinis in the deep and Labuschagne in the ring both cover themselves in glory as Australia keep the game on their terms.
Back to being timed out, Ewan Glenton has joined in the conversation. “I can imagine someone in Mathews’ position making a hurried, pressured decision like ‘Oh dear, something’s wrong with my helmet but I can’t be timed out, we might lose or I might lose my place in the team, so I’ll just have to face the next ball without it’. If that happens and the batter gets injured of killed then they’ll have to change the rule, adding something like ‘except in the case of safety equipment malfunction’. That probably won’t happen, so they can leave it for now and just worry about it if it does happen, as is usually the case with these things.” Absolutely. It’s also the kind of thing my brain locates at 3am the night before a game. Then I wake up in a cold sweat checking my kit bag for my box, gloves, etc…
41st over: Afghanistan 204-3 (Zadran 92, Azmat 21) Can Afghanistan accelerate in this final 10-over powerplay? Oooh, maybe. Azmat smacks his second six of the day, launching Zampa back over his head with a crisp blow. There are still plenty of dots around that shot, but the 200 is now up, with 300 a not unreasonable target with so many wickets in hand.
40th over: Afghanistan 195-3 (Zadran 90, Azmat 14) Cummins decides he wants a piece of the action and his third delivery creates some rare incident after it ricochets off Azmat’s helmet and away for four leg-byes. The mandatory concussion check follows but the batter is ok. He proves it by stepping to leg and clawing a ball from outside off through wide midwicket for a very scruffy but effective boundary. The over eventually costs those four extras plus seven off the bat, the last of which was a ramp down to third from Zadran that almost reaches Starc on the full.
39th over: Afghanistan 184-3 (Zadran 88, Azmat 9) Cummins returns to Maxwell, even though the TV graphic says Head. Makes me reminisce of the days sat in a draughty scorer’s hut yelling “BOWLER’S NAME!” until I’m blue in the face.
38th over: Afghanistan 179-3 (Zadran 86, Azmat 6) Azmatullah Omarzai is the new batter and he goes dot dot six! The scoring shot is majestic, timing the ball without fanfare back over the bowler’s head beautifully. Afghanistan need plenty more of that to post a competitive total on a good pitch.
Starc has hinted at some reverse with his full deliveries. Shahidi has hinted at some recklessness with his occasional foray down the pitch. The two worlds collide to devastating effect with batter missing and bowler hitting. All that grind for 43 balls for a dismissal like that. Bleurgh.
37th over: Afghanistan 173-2 (Zadran 86, Shahidi 26) Cummins goes back to the part-timer Travis Head, perhaps as bait to tempt Afghanistan into a reckless stroke or two. It doesn’t work. The bowling is too tight, and the batting too conservative.
The discussion throughout play so far has been around the spirit of cricket and the impact of Angelo Mathews being timed out. In a stroke of supreme serendipity the greatest talker in cricket – Stuart Broad – has just been musing on the topic with the best interviewer in the business – Donald McRae. Tuck in.
36th over: Afghanistan 169-2 (Zadran 84, Shahidi 24) Cummins has rotated his pacemen smartly from one end, sharing the load, which means it’s time for Starc’s third spell of the day. He begins around the wicket after struggling with the foot holes from over the wicket, then immediately slings down a wide when he returns back over. He grows into his work through and almost sneaks a trademark yorker through Shahidi, a delivery that showed hints of reverse swing.
35th over: Afghanistan 165-2 (Zadran 82, Shahidi 23) Another over, another mixture of dots and singles, another indication both sides are happy with how this match is progressing. The only moment of note was a massive legside wide that made me feel better about my part-time net-bowling leggies.
34th over: Afghanistan 159-2 (Zadran 80, Shahidi 21) Hazlewood continues after drinks, keeping things tight for Australia in an over that contains another tasty short ball at Shahidi from around the wicket.
33rd over: Afghanistan 156-2 (Zadran 78, Shahidi 20) Zampa’s sixth over is his best of the match so far. Plenty of whip in the action, everything landing on a good length with a variety of flight and pace. Afghanistan can only muster two singles and both batters survive mistimed leading edges.
32nd over: Afghanistan 154-2 (Zadran 78, Shahidi 19) Hazlewood is too good to get away this over. He finds that line and length you can picture with your eyes closed, going for just two singles and beating Shahidi twice, once on the outside – conventionally – once on the inside, with the Afghanistan skipper missing with the ugliest mow I’ve seen this world cup. Good intent at least, shame about the execution.
31st over: Afghanistan 153-2 (Zadran 77, Shahidi 18) Sensing a change in intensity Cummins calls on Zampa, his main risk-reward bowler. And Zadran immediately answers my question from the previous over by crashing a fierce cover-drive for four. Shahidi follows suit, driving too straight for the long-on sweeper to intercept for another boundary. Here we go!
30th over: Afghanistan 142-2 (Zadran 72, Shahidi 13) Can Hazlewood make something happen? Yes, sort of. Shahidi takes a couple of steps down the pitch to the paceman’s second ball and slaps him for a couple through midwicket. The rest of the over is singles as Afghanistan like the look of the opening bowler without being able to grab him by the scruff of the neck. Will that more purposeful mindset carry over?
29th over: Afghanistan 136-2 (Zadran 70, Shahidi 9) Another middling middle over. Maxwell goes for three.
The cricket’s been dull for good hour or so now, so feel free to do something else, like watch Jeremy Deller’s visual essay about rave culture in Great Britain in the late 1980s.
28th over: Afghanistan 133-2 (Zadran 69, Shahidi 8) Cummins returns to his bouncer barrage at Shahidi and after evading the previous four, the Afghanistan captain hooks one down to fine leg for four. Cummins responds with another bouncer then the supposed wicket ball – a slower yorker – but Shahidi is switched on to it.
27th over: Afghanistan 128-2 (Zadran 69, Shahidi 3) I hereby declare this innings as drifting. Maxwell goes for four in another over containing little intent from either side. If this was a computer game you’d fast-forward until over 40 and skip this dross.
26th over: Afghanistan 124-2 (Zadran 66, Shahidi 2) With Shahidi on strike Cummins immediately brings himself back on and begins with consecutive short balls into the left-hander from around the wicket. After the strike is rotated Cummins’ third ball to Shahidi is aimed similarly. Is this the main event or a bluff? Bluff The final ball of the over is a wicket yorker from the hand of one skipper to the toes of another, but it’s dug out well and Afghanistan soldier on.
25th over: Afghanistan 122-2 (Zadran 65, Shahidi 1) Maxwell with the breakthrough just as Afghanistan were trying to up the tempo. Big job now for the skipper Shahidi, the first left-hander in the Afghanistan side.
Out of nowhere this becalmed partnership bursts into life, and it brings about a soft dismissal almost immediately with Shah lofting Maxwell straight to Hazlewood at long off.
24th over: Afghanistan 117-1 (Zadran 62, Shah 29) Time for bowler No 7, a man by the name of Marcus Stoinis, and he gives up just two singles with his heavy cutters into the pitch.
“Speaking of fair play – maybe I imagined it but I thought the ICC had a policy once of not allowing a men’s team to play in international tournaments if there was no national women’s team. (I can’t see an Afghan women’s team emerging any time soon when girls aren’t even allowed to go to school.) Or did I dream it?” Excellent email Jane Higgins.
Here are a couple of links from last year when this issue was at the top of the agenda, since when it has faded from view.
23rd over: Afghanistan 115-1 (Zadran 61, Shah 28) With Zampa not making anything happen Cummins returns to Maxwell to save one of his trump cards for later. A speedy over worth four singles is the result.
22nd over: Afghanistan 111-1 (Zadran 59, Shah 26) A boundary! And I missed it! Channel 9 in Australia just cut to some tennis without me realising. Did I miss a warning? Anyway, eight from Head’s second over.
“A case for the defence/devil’s advocate/Steve Waugh ruthlessness,” from Brenden Fawkes. “As a captain of your nation at a WC, its your job & duty to use every mode of dismissal available while in the field. Also, Mathews had how many hours to make sure the equipment required for his job was up to scratch? He is just as culpable.” Absolutely correct.
21st over: Afghanistan 103-1 (Zadran 58, Shah 19) Another over of mutually beneficial mundanity. Four singles from it. Zampa remains unthreatening.
20th over: Afghanistan 99-1 (Zadran 56, Shah 17) Bowler number six for Australia is Travis Head, and he rattles through an over of darts in quick time for the concession of just three singles. Both teams seem to be happy with how everything is meandering out there. Afghanistan are biding their time to attack with wickets in hand, Australia will feel confident of chasing anything under 350.
19th over: Afghanistan 96-1 (Zadran 55, Shah 15) “England’s man of the tournament,” muses Michael Atherton, as the camera zooms in on Afghanistan coach Jonathan Trott. “No competition.” Trott watches his second wicket pair nudge three runs from another Zampa over containing little of note.
“Re: Ponting as a commentator, I have mixed feelings,” emails Snehal. “He seems to forget far too often what his new role is, and there is only so often that one can take the prescriptive ‘Bring fine leg squarer and.. “, which also goes for the likes of Gavaskar. A little bit of occasional dead air when there is nowt but the sound of the game, the murmur of the crowd and the tense silence of expectation in a well poised game would do wonders to improve the standing of any commentator in my book.” I will respectfully disagree with your first point, and wholeheartedly agree with your second. Silence is golden.
18th over: Afghanistan 93-1 (Zadran 54, Shah 13) Not the kind of day you want to be bowling a ten-ball over, but that’s what Starc does when he loses his line, bowling three wides down the legside and one outside off. He’s also lucky not to be punished for runs off the bat after leaking onto Shah’s hip, then hurling a gimme wide of off stump. As is the way of course, with the universe, karma, swings and roundabouts and things evening themselves out, Starc is then thick-edged for four wide of the diving Inglis. Those runs come off the blade of Zadran, who brings up a very composed half cenutry.
17th over: Afghanistan 80-1 (Zadran 47, Shah 10) Four singles from another nondescript Zampa over. Were Afghanistan a side with title-winning aspirations we would probably be criticising the run-rate and conservative nature of the innings so far. As it is, they are doing a fine job of keeping their heads, knowing conditions are in their favour to pinch an unlikely result later on.
Question: in the way that running out the non-striker became known as the Mankad, do we now refer to being timed out as being Angeloed? For example: I almost got Angeloed during the drinks break putting the bins out during a thunderstorm.
16th over: Afghanistan 75-1 (Zadran 45, Shah 9) Starc is back for his second spell and he finds a very tidy line and length from the off, angling the ball away from the right-handers from over the wicket. One of those beats Zadran’s outside edge, but there’s no nick.
The commentators on the TV are reinforcing the point at every opportunity how hot it is in Mumbai, and how dry the surface is. Fielding in these conditions is not easy, nor is bowling pace. Time for a drink.
15th over: Afghanistan 73-1 (Zadran 43, Shah 8) Big moment in this innings with Adam Zampa brought into the attack. He gets away with two full tosses in his opening three deliveries as Afghanistan work him around for five singles. Bit of an anti-climax.
14th over: Afghanistan 68-1 (Zadran 40, Shah 6) Ibrahim Zadran, take a bow son. Just short of a length from Cummins and the opener casually rocks back and executes the coolest ramp you could imagine. One bounce for four directly over the keeper. Magnificent.
“Further to the points in Over 10,” emails John Starbuck, “I recall, when helmets began to be compulsory, that some grounds had deliberate cavities built behind the wickets to hold these, along with spare drinks, emergency medical aid etc. There was no question that five runs would be awarded for hitting them with the ball and the grass was allowed to grow over them so no-one could see any difference. Whatever happened to them?”
13th over: Afghanistan 61-1 (Zadran 33, Shah 6) Four singles from Maxwell’s latest, despite Afghanistan showing plenty of intent.
12th over: Afghanistan 57-1 (Zadran 31, Shah 4) Just two singles from Cummins’ second over.
“Sunil Gavaskar, who faced Roberts and Marshall without a helmet, must have had a good laugh yesterday after Matthews was timed out,” emails Krishnanmoorthy. That’s an interesting aspect to this debate because the timed out law will have been written before compulsory safety equipment. Considering how awkward helmets and the rest can be to put on, it’s a wonder something like this hasn’t happened sooner and often.