Glenn Maxwell made an unbeaten 54 off 32 balls to carry Australia to a competitive 168/6 against Afghanistan in their final Group 1 match of Super 12s in Men’s T20 World Cup at the Adelaide Oval on Friday.
In a batting line-up where captain Aaron Finch and finisher Tim David were missing due to hamstring injuries, Maxwell hit six fours and two sixes at a strike-rate of 168.75 and found some support from Mitchell Marsh (45 off 30 balls) to give something to defend for their bowlers.
But Australia’s total also meant that New Zealand became the first team to officially qualify for the semifinals of the tournament. With now only one spot left for the semifinals from Group 1, Australia now need to try and keep Afghanistan to 106 or fewer to get themselves ahead of England’s run rate, who will be facing Sri Lanka at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday.
Pushed into batting first, David Warner had a rollicking start with four fours in the first two overs. Despite Cameron Green falling cheaply, Warner and Marsh were looking really good for getting big scores.
But Warner was cleaned bowled by Naveen-ul-Haq while going for an outrageous switch hit and Steve Smith was also trapped lbw to fall cheaply in the final over of powerplay.
Marsh batted well and even took a six as well as two fours off Gulbadin Naib in the ninth over. But he fell five short of his half-century as top-edge on slog-sweep was caught by keeper off Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
In trouble at 86/4 in 10.4 overs, Maxwell entered the stage and batted superbly for a 53-run stand off 29 balls with Marcus Stoinis (25 off 21 balls) for the fifth wicket. The duo scored their runs quickly through boundaries and helped Australia aim for a big score.
Though Afghanistan took out Stoinis, stand-in captain Matthew Wade, Pat Cummins and Kane Richardson in quick succession, Maxwell ensured that his 29-ball fifty got Australia cross the 160-mark.