Led by a fiery batting display from David Warner and Glen Maxwell with controlled performance from Steven Smith, Australia reached 417/6, a total highest in the World Cup history. Afghanistan knew Australia’s batting potential, when they asked the hosts to bat first after winning the toss but they had no inkling that the best from Australia was reserved for them. Everyone knows about David Warner’s natural instincts but that he would use all his ammunition for gunning away the Afghanis on a fateful day was not foreseen. Along with Warner, Australia also had a calmer in Steven Smith, who piled up a relatively sedate 95 off 98 balls and generally watched his colleague at the other end tearing the bowling apart. But Warner’s 178 off 133 balls looked like a patient knock, when Glenn Maxwell brought a sledgehammer after the fall of Warner’s wicket. Before someone could blink, Maxwell wreaked havoc with a whirlwind 88 off merely 39 balls and overtook Warner in the number of sixes; 7 against Warner’s 5. The pace at which Australia scored 417 runs makes for an interesting pattern. The first 10 overs produced 68, the next 10, 53, between 20-30, 82 runs, 30-40; 96 runs and the last 10 overs went for 118. Apart from 417 being the highest total, the margin of defeat by 275 runs was also the largest in history as Afghanistan fell prey to some quality swing bowling by the Australians ably supported by great effort in the field. A total of 142 was all Afghanistan could manage by the 38th over before losing all their wickets.
After losing the toss and coming on to bat at the behest of the Afghan captain, Australia began badly. They lost Aaron Finch in the third over. Fall of an early wicket made the batsmen exercise caution. Though Warner made up later, he had scored only 19 off 27 balls by the seventh over. As the Perth sun began to blaze on the fielders head, the bowlers began losing their rhythm. That provided impetus to the hitherto sedate Warner. He felt free to come into his own with Smith ably guarding the fort. He made room for pulls as the Afghanis sent down juicy short pitched balls. Once he scored three boundaries from 10th over bowled by Hamid Hassan, he found his freedom. Now there was nothing to stop Warner. He crossed the century mark in the 25th over and got past 150 in the 30th. Finally, Warner fell in the 38th over for 178 scored off 133 balls with 19 fours and 5 sixes. By this time the Warner-Smith combo had added 260 runs for the second wicket, which is Australia’s highest for any wicket in the World Cup. Warner’s exit brought Glenn Maxwell, whose 39-ball stay at the wicket eclipsed Warner’s recent belligerence. Coming at 274/2, Maxwel didn’t have a care in the world as he set the WACA stadium on fire. He tried everything and succeeded; Scoops, reverse-sweeps, flicks, pulls and drives. With Afghan fielding in utter disarray, Maxwell scored freely. In between he lost Smith and Faulkner and by the time he departed in the 48th over, Australia were already 390/5. Brad Haddin and Mitchell Marsh added 27 for the sixth wicket and Australia finished at 417/6.
Coming on to chase 418 for victory, the Afghan batsmen couldn’t cope with the swing bowling of Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood. But Afghanistan had an opening stand better than Australia’s. But after that, wickets kept falling. It was evident that the Afghanis had been weighed down by the massive score. Only Nawroz Mangal could cross 30. He even hit 2 sixes in his 35-ball 33. Johnson took 4/22 in 7.3 overs and his spell had 5 wide balls. It was a submission in the end as the entire innings collapsed for 142 in the 38th over to give Australia a 275-run victory margin.
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