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From pushovers to giant slayers: Afghanistan humble mighty Aussies to flex bulging muscles

There was a time when teams wanted to face Afghanistan in global tournaments for easy points on offer. But now they have turned the tables. Afghanistan now possess the power to defeat anyone on their day, just like they did against Australia, flexing their muscles to show their strength.

Written By: Varun Malik @varunm0212 New Delhi Published on: June 23, 2024 21:19 IST
Gulbadin Naib flexes his muscle to show Afghanistan's power.
Image Source : GETTY Gulbadin Naib flexes his muscle to show Afghanistan's power.

Heads hanging down, hearts completely broken and a silent trudge towards the dressing room. Afghanistan were inches away in 2023. From being in a total commanding position to defend 291, having reduced the Aussies to 91/7, they were shell-shocked at how on earth this could have happened. A herculean Glenn Maxwell, who was battling serious cramps, played a knock that was impossible to imagine.

Cut to 2024. Maxwell was there. The nightmares of the 2023 ODI World Cup looming large in their minds when they needed to defend 44 from 36 balls with Maxwell there on 59 and the Aussies having five wickets in hand. 

Gulbadin charged in for his third over and bowled one fuller to Maxwell, who as he usually does, looked to slice it. But Noor Ahmad present at the backward point made a brilliant dive and took a low catch. No chance you could have dropped it. One drop cost them dearly in that World Cup game in 2023 when Mujeeb put down Maxwell at short fine. This was not only a catch but the match flying in the air. 

After the wickets, Gulbadin flexed his muscles as if to tell that Afghanistan have grown in much strength now than they were a decade ago. There was a time when everyone wanted to face the Afghans, assuming two easy points are up for grabs. Now it is a time that everyone is beware of them, knowing this is a team that has the armour to beat anyone on their day. 

"Do not disrespect Afghanistan by calling this an upset. AFG are good enough to beat any team on their day. They played to their potential today and defeated a very good Australian team. A fact that should be celebrated. Congratulations and well played Afghanistan," Wasim Jaffer said after Afghanistan's win over Australia.

If 2023 broke their heart and hit their hopes of reaching into the semis, the tables have turned in 2024. This result has dented Australia's chances of reaching the last four of the T20 World Cup 2024 and boosted their own hopes of making it to the top four. 

Afghanistan have come a long way now. They won only one match across the two ODI World Cups in 2015 and 2019 but now have flexed their muscles in 2023 and 2024. In the 2023 ODI World Cup, they won four matches, more than England, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and equal to what Pakistan won. 

They defeated the likes of England, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Netherlands in that World Cup. For once, they were very much in the race for the semifinals. They are again now, flexing their muscles just like Gulbadin was in the game against Australia.


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