3 reasons why Afghanistan's win over Australia is their greatest in history

Afghanistan v Australia: Super Eight - ICC Men
Afghanistan v Australia: Super Eight - ICC Men's T20 Cricket World Cup West Indies & USA 2024

Afghanistan scripted history by defeating Australia by 21 runs in the 2024 T20 World Cup Super Eight stage encounter at the Arnos Vale Stadium in St.Vincent on Saturday, June 22. The Rashid Khan-led side now have an excellent chance of qualifying for the semi-finals of the ongoing tournament.

After being put into bat, Afghanistan had a solid foundation courtesy of half-centuries by openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran. However, following a collapse at the back end of the innings, they had to settle for 148.

With the ball, Afghanistan used up to eight options, and they all played their part. Naveen-ul-Haq and Fazalhaq Farooqi made the new ball count, while Rashid Khan was potent in the middle overs. The point of difference came in the form of Gulbadin Naib, who finished with figures of 4-20.

On that note, let us take a look at three reasons why Afghanistan's win over Australia in the 2024 T20 World Cup is their greatest in history

#1 It came against a side like Australia

Simply put, a World Cup win, irrespective of the format against serial winners Australia is special. Partly because of how rarely they let down their guard and also because of how insurmountable the task is. Although Afghanistan have come perilously and rapidly close to Australia in terms of skill, particularly in the shortest format, they have been classified well behind when it comes to the mental aspect.

Afghanistan have defeated all of England, Pakistan, and New Zealand in recent times, but a win over Australia has always eluded them. The old saying 'To be the best, you have got to beat the best,' holds true here. When it comes to ICC events, there is no one even close to the Men in Yellow, as their trophy cabinet suggests.

Although the recent win over New Zealand was far more dominant and comprehensive, there is just a rush of getting one over Australia that Afghanistan have experienced, and it is an additive one too.

#2 They made a championship side look ordinary

On a pitch that was difficult to bat on, Afghanistan put up a 118-run opening partnership. Australia's highest partnership in their innings was not even close to half of it.

Australia giving away over 100 runs for the first wicket in a crunch World Cup fixture is almost unheard of, but Afghanistan made it a reality. Even though Australia had all of the momentum at the close of the first innings following Cummins' hat-trick, Afghanistan completely made it irrelevant with their new-ball display.

If Australia were to dissect the performance, which they will inevitably do, there would hardly be any positives to take away. They were horrendous in the field and were absolutely outplayed during the run chase. Maxwell was the team's highest run scorer with a valiant 59, but the second-highest contributor came in the form of extras with 16 runs.

Only two batters apart from Maxwell managed to record double figures, and even Australia skipper Mitchell Marsh was forced to admit that his side were outplayed. How often has one heard an Australian skipper acknowledging that his side were dominated in a near-knock-out World Cup clash?

#3 They did not lose their nerve

Afghanistan have outplayed many oppositions in the past, that is no news. However, their downfall often has come after failing to capitalize on such situations. They have sent the opposition on the ropes on so many occasions, but have failed to tip them over. Their many encounters against Pakistan, their 2018 Asia Cup encounter against India, and the infamous 2023 ODI World Cup clash against Australia come to mind.

The major difference this time around is that they remained level-headed, were not overwhelmed by the occasion, and were absolutely clinical. No opportunities in the form of catches were squandered, and there were no loose balls for Australia to capitalize upon. They were absolutely thorough and clinical against an opposition who were reputed with these two traits.

Their only threat was a budding Glenn Maxwell, which was also dealt with well before the death overs. One could be forgiven for thinking that Australia were favorites to win even after they looked in trouble, purely because such circumstances have happened in the past as well, but they have found a way to win. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, Afghanistan have found ways to lose from such situations in the past.

Just the fact that they were able to squander this narrative with pure skill and nerve is the principal reason why this will go down in history books as their greatest win ever.

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Edited by Sankalp Srivastava
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