In 1983, during a cold morning in Tunbridge Wells, Kapil’s valiant innings against Zimbabwe turned the tide for India. Facing a daunting situation at 17 for 5, Kapil led the charge, bulldozing the opposition’s bowlers, eventually guiding India to victory. Team manager PR Man Singh’s superstitions even kept Krishnamachari Srikkanth from taking a restroom break as they were all spellbound by Kapil’s brilliance.
Fast forward to the present, the Wankhede Stadium witnessed Maxwell’s unforgettable performance. Facing an imposing target of 292 and reduced to a dire situation at 91 for 7, Maxwell and Australian captain Pat Cummins engaged in an extraordinary 202-run unbeaten partnership, scripting a remarkable turnaround.
Maxwell, despite battling cramps, played an innings for the ages, featuring 21 fours and 10 sixes, guiding Australia to a three-wicket win over Afghanistan, securing their spot in the World Cup semifinals.
The Australian players’ devotion to superstition was apparent during Maxwell’s whirlwind knock. They remained “fixated” in their designated dressing room positions until Maxwell smashed Mujeeb ur Rahaman for a six, just as Kapil’s heroics had mesmerised the Indian team decades ago.
Josh Hazlewood, one of Australia’s key bowlers, shared the intensity of the moment, saying, “I was just blown away by what happened and just got caught up watching like everyone else. I did not think about batting at all.” He lauded Maxwell’s performance as the “No. 1” innings he had ever witnessed. Maxwell’s 128-ball 201 not out, after hitting the fastest World Cup century against the Netherlands a few days prior, left a lasting impact.
Hazlewood admitted that bowling to Maxwell was a challenge, likening it to facing the likes of Suryakumar Yadav and Jos Buttler. He marvelled at Maxwell’s ability to hit the ball 360 degrees and the multitude of shots in his arsenal.
ICC World Cup 2023: Maxwell’s double ton takes Australia to World Cup semifinals against Afghanistan
Reflecting on the Afghanistan innings, Hazlewood acknowledged that Australia had given away too many runs in the final five overs. Still, he emphasised that the pitch was good throughout the match, making it tough for the team batting second. However, Australia’s perseverance and resilience ultimately paved the way for their stunning victory.
(With inputs from PTI)