Sensational Gulbadin scripts fairytale win

Gulbadin starred with a four-wicket haul. (PC:

The last time Afghanistan faced Australia, history was made. Glenn Maxwell, hobbling on one leg, pulled off a miraculous run-chase in Mumbai last year in the ODI World Cup. On June 23, Sunday, Maxwell seemed destined for a similar performance. He raised his bat after reaching his fifty. The way he was striking the ball—clean and precise—suggested that Afghan hopes might once again be dashed. Just as it appeared that the game had slipped away from Afghanistan’s grasp, Gulbadin Naib, brought on as the eighth bowler, turned the match around by dismissing Maxwell.

From a cricketing perspective, it was an innocuous delivery. Maxwell attempted to drive for a boundary but instead edged the ball thickly towards backward point, where Noor Ahmad dived forward to grasp a sharp, low catch. Given the speed of the ball and Noor’s proximity, it was a tough catch. Rashid Khan was brilliant with his field placement and bowling changes. Although Rashid, initially, hesitated in giving the ball to Gulbadin Naib, the effectiveness of Australia’s approach against spin convinced Rashid. Sure enough, Gulbadin, did not disappoint his captain.

“Thanks to Rashid for believing in me,” said a jubilant Gulbadin.

The two-paced surface at Arnos Vale Ground in St Vincent was tailor-made for Gulbadin’s bowling style. Pat Cummins demonstrated in the first innings how to bowl effectively on such a wicket as a seamer, and Gulbadin likely took a cue from him. It was clear that he aimed to exploit the pitch’s uneven bounce to the hilt.

“The pitch wasn’t easy to bat on; the bounce was quite variable. I struck early with two wickets and carried that momentum through,” Gulbadin added.

Gulbadin Naib for Afghanistan vs Australia
Gulbadin Naib for Afghanistan vs Australia (PC: X)

Gulbadin was introduced in the 11th over after the drinks break. Perhaps, Afghanistan’s bowling consultant, Dwayne Bravo, who is well-versed in the conditions, may have suggested Rashid to bring Gulbadin into the attack. The right-arm medium-pacer made an immediate impact by dismissing Marcus Stoinis with a well-directed short ball at around 122 kph. This prompted Rashid to persist with Gulbadin, who continued to make crucial breakthroughs with every over he bowled. His delivery to Tim David was a sharp nip-backer that caught the Australian batter on the crease.

Australia had pinned their hopes on the miracle man Pat Cummins, but even he struggled on the sluggish pitch and Gulbadin’s mastery. Gulbadin was able to generate movement off the pitch, and his slower balls held up nicely on the surface. Everything he bowled seemed to come off well. He not only claimed four key wickets but also maintained tight control, finishing with a match-winning spell of 4/20 in his four overs.

Afghanistan’s victory has sent shockwaves through the World Cup, stunning a team that was highly confident of securing a spot in the semi-finals. This unexpected result has completely altered the dynamics of Group 1, significantly boosting Afghanistan’s chances of reaching the semi-finals. Meanwhile, Australia find themselves nursing wounds after this unexpected defeat.