The quarter-finals are in full swing. Who reaches Finals Day?
BUSINESS boomed at long last for Shahid Afridi as the Pakistan star catapulted Hampshire into a seventh Finals Day in eight years.
The 37-year-old, famed for his big-hitting ability, produced a rip-roaring 43-ball century to help Hampshire sweep aside Derbyshire Falcons in the T20 Blast quarter-final at the County Ground on Tuesday, booking a trip to Edgbaston on September 2.
Afridi’s superb knock of 101 powered Hampshire to 249-8 – surpassing their previous highest team total of 225-2 set against Middlesex in June 2006 – and, having been promoted to the top of the visitors’ batting order, the old master cashed in on throwing caution to the wind.
He smacked Wayne Madsen all over the park, making 16 off the Falcons man’s first over, and pressed the issue home from there.
“I told the captain and coach to send me up the order,” said Afridi.
“In T20, you can take chances. Batsmen like me, who play aggressively, have to utilise those first six overs.
“I tried to start with attack – attack is your defence.
“The spinner [Madsen] was bowling, so I tried to put pressure on them because the pitch was not easy, especially with the new ball.”
Skipper James Vince (55) contributed to Hampshire’s hearty total and the hosts struggled to find anywhere near as much joy with the bat, tail-ender Ben Cotton topscoring with 30 as the Falcons were dismissed for 148 with the penultimate ball of the match.
Derbyshire depart the competition having racked up a club-record eight wins and batsman Luis Reece paid tribute to Afridi’s heroics.
“We came up against Shahid Afridi when he was hot and his innings pretty much won them the game,” said the 27-year-old.
“It was a great knock from him and when someone hits 100 off 40 balls, you are always on the back foot.
“We tried to make the most of the powerplay. Maybe, in hindsight, we went a little too hard, but when you are chasing 250, you would rather die trying to go hard and give it a good crack. But 250 is always going to be a tough chase and it just wasn’t our night.
“It’s been a great competition as a whole for Derbyshire.
“We’ve made some great strides forward this year and reached our first quarter-final in 12 years.
“Hopefully, we can use this and build on it for years to come.”