by Rex Clementine

There were sensational scenes in St. Vincent’s on Saturday night. Australia’s unbeaten run in the T-20 World Cup came to an end. Afghanistan made them eat humble pie. It is the first time in any form of cricket that Afghanistan had beaten Australia. The former champions had an unblemished record in the competition and looked to have all bases covered. However, some inspirational cricket by the Afghans ended that streak.

There will be a few questions asked though. How can you leave out someone like Mitchell Starc from the side? Mitchell Marsh said that Starc was overlooked and Ashton Agar was picked based on conditions. Afghanistan would have taken that any day with a big thank you.

Afghanistan had lost their last two games and it looked as if Australia and India were going through to the semis from the group. But that’s the best thing about these Afghans. When you write them off they come hard at you.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran added 115 runs for the first wicket in 95 balls. Australia is a very good fielding unit, but this night they were sloppy. Fielding made a big difference in this game.

Gurbaz hit four sixes for his 60 that came off 49 balls. Zadran, the Test captain took 48 balls for his 51. They had battled for 16 overs and the rest had to just come and swing with the hope of connecting a few.

That they did without a care in the world. In the process Pat Cummins picked up another hat-trick, his second in the tournament.

Travis Head was dismissed by a peach of a delivery from Naveen-ul-Haq in the third ball of the innings. The ball pitched and moved away from the batter to clatter the stumps.

Glen Maxwell then produced an entertaining innings. He hit 59 off 41 balls and memories of Bombay 2023 when he helped Australia snatch victory from jaws of defeat rekindled in your memories.

But Afghanistan were super on the field. Noor Ahmed took a blinder at backward of point to dismiss Maxwell and Australia were soon feeling the pressure.

Left-arm quick Fazalhaq Farooqi has been inspirational for Afghanistan and he remains the tournament’s highest wicket taker. But he went wicketless against Australia and it was Gulbadin Naib’s chance to turn up. The former captain produced four wickets to help Afghanistan over the line by 21 runs.

The Super Eight stage of the tournament had produced many one-sided games. Afghanistan suddenly made things interesting and the competition now is wide open. India or Australia could be now thrown out of the semi-finals.