Describing Glenn Maxwell's unbeaten 201 off 128 balls as the greatest ODI innings he has ever seen, Australia captain Pat Cummins said survival was the only thing on their mind when he came in to bat after Afghanistan had reduced them to 91/7 in the 19th over of their ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 match at the Wankhede Stadium here on Tuesday.
With Maxwell blasting 21 boundaries and 10 maximums and Cummins raising 202 runs off 170 balls for the unfinished 8th wicket partnership, Australia scored 293/7 in 46.5 overs and grabbed an improbable three-wicket victory from the jaws of defeat, chasing Afghanistan's score of 291/5 in 50 overs built on a first World Cup century for his country in World Cups by Ibrahim Zadran (129 not out off 143) and an 18-ball 35 by Rashid Khan.
But at the start, surviving the next few overs was top most on Cummins' mind as he joined Maxwell in the middle.
"Initially when I walked out there we thought the mystery spinners were the biggest trouble. The ball was still spinning a little bit and they were bowling really well. For me, it was just basically hanging in there. Maxie was still scoring quite freely. We knew it was the kind of wicket that gets easier. Didn't really feel like run rate was ever going to be an issue with Maxie still at the crease. So, for me it was just about basically survival and just hope we get a look at some of the other bowlers that maybe that wicket doesn't suit as much," Cummins said in the post-match press conference on Tuesday.
He said, "So, it was a pretty simple plan. Didn't look too far ahead. I think Maxie might be a bit different. I think he's always plotting his way to a win. So, I think even 200 runs out, he was kind of mapping out how he was going to do it. I was just trying to survive."
He said Maxwell's innings was the greatest ODI knock he has ever watched. "I think that's the greatest ODI innings. I mean I've ever seen it's probably the greatest ODI innings ever. Yeah, we're just chatting about it, all the players and we’ve decided it's one of those days where you just go, I was there in the stadium the day Glenn Maxwell chased down that total by himself. Yeah, I'm sure he’ll be fine. He was cramping but I think you saw out there how much he loves playing for Australia and do anything to play. So, I'm sure it'll be fine," said Cummins.
Asked to describe how he saw the innings from the other end, Cummins said it was just a one-man show. "Yeah, it's just a one-man show. It's just like, it looks so easy. I'm up the other end and I don't see any gaps in the field I don't see where I'm going to score a boundary and it seems like every time, he sees that he just runs away for four."
He agreed that Maxwell was a freak, just for hitting sixes at will despite being unable to move due to severe cramps.
"Yeah, he still can't move and still manages to hit a six off the third man with reverse – he’s a freak, he hits into different areas, again, he makes it look so easy. And when you're up against someone like that as a bowler, you just, you don't have many options," he said.
Asked what was going through his mind as Maxwell went down, taking a single and required the assistance of the physio, Cummins said he thought he would have to ask the next man, Adam Zampa to come in.
"Ah, yeah, I thought he was going off. So, I kind of signalled to Zampa to get down here cause yeah, he literally couldn't move and then I think the physio was out there obviously and he kind of convinced Maxie that if he came off, it might be worse off. So, try and hang out there, stand up, and that's probably your best bet. Because once you go off it's that much cramp but there's no guarantee you're going to get back out there," said Cummins.
Asked when did he actually think they could win the match, Cummins said he entertained such thought only when they needed 40 off 40.
"When I went out there, I thought if we can somehow scratch the 200, our net run rate should be pretty good for the semis. When Maxi got his 100, I kind of thought, wow, we're within 120 or something. And then I still thought, no way. So, I reckon it wasn't until the spinners were just about done and there was maybe 40 off 40 or something where I thought okay even if Maxie gets out here, I reckon the other guys can get it done," said Cummins.