Shahid Afridi © Getty Images
Shahid Afridi © Getty Images

Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi blasted 101 in only 43 balls to inspire Hampshire’s 101-run victory at Derbyshire in the T20 Blast quarter-finals on Tuesday. All-rounder Afridi hit seven sixes and 10 fours to power Hampshire to 249 for eight, their highest T20 score. Skipper James Vince made 55 from 36 balls as Hampshire passed their previous best of 225 for two against Middlesex in 2006 and, faced with an improbable target of 250, the Falcons crumbled to 148 all out with Liam Dawson and Kyle Abbott each taking three wickets. Hampshire promoted Afridi to opener against the county he played for in 2003 and he swept and drove four boundaries from Wayne Madsen’s first over before Calvin Dickinson took two fours from Hardus Viljoen.

Afridi’s previous high score in the competition this season was 18 but he pulled Ben Cotton for six before driving him over the top of the three-storey media centre. He reached his fifty off only 20 balls with a top-edged six but after driving Imran Tahir for another huge six, he was dropped on 65 at long-on by Madsen. It proved expensive as Afridi dispatched Matt Critchley and Tahir for two more sixes on his way to a blistering hundred before he top-edged another big pull and was caught at long-leg. It was learnt that Shahid Afridi had persuaded his team Director to let him open the match. He had not done so in a T20 for Hampshire since finals day in 2011. The last time he opened against Somerset in 2011, he scored 80 which was not enough to take his team to the final.

Speaking on strategy, Afridi told ESPNcricinfo, “I asked the captain and coach yesterday if I could bat higher up the order because seven or eight is not my position. In crucial games you have to take chances. The first six overs are important and you need batters who play aggressively like me to utilise this. I wanted to put pressure on them from the start although it was not easy because the new ball was seaming. The first six overs are important and I tried to start on the attack. The last time I opened the batting for Hampshire was finals day in 2011 but the main thing is confidence and I felt confident today.”

(Inputs from ANI)