Hampshire’s match-winner Shahid Afridi revealed that he had to persuade director of cricket Giles White and skipper James Vince to let him open the batting against Derbyshire – even though he had not done so in a Twenty20 for Hampshire since finals day in 2011.
“I asked the captain and coach yesterday if I could bat higher up the order because seven or eight is not my position,” Afridi said, after his brilliant 101 – his first century in the shortest form of the game – set Hampshire on their way to a seventh finals day in eight seasons.
“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.”
As it happens, that innings – against Somerset – produced Afridi’s next highest T20 score of 80, although it was not enough to win the semi-final for his team.
Although Hampshire were well on the way to a substantial score, one of the key moments of the match came in the eighth over of the Hampshire innings after Derbyshire captain Gary Wilson had chosen to bowl first, as Wayne Madsen – so often Derbyshire’s hero in reaching their first quarter-final since 2005 – dropped the catch at long-on that would have seen Afridi out for 65.
“I saw it all the way and I thought it was coming straight in, to be fair,” Madsen said, having manfully agreed to front up and discuss the moment.
“I would probably catch those 98 times out of 100. It was just one of those things, it just hit me straight in the middle of the hand and popped right out again.
“He had already done us quite a lot of damage but that cost us another 40 runs and it was very disappointing obviously.”
Madsen also conceded four boundaries to Afridi in his only over – the first of the innings – but explained that he and skipper Wilson thought it was the right tactic, even if the sight of the explosive Pakistani all-rounder coming out to open was a surprise.
“We thought about giving Hardus the first over but I was bowling pretty straight at the stumps. Both those sweep shots he played in the first over – if he had missed it would have hit the pads and he was out lbw.
“Today it has come off for him and, although I have had success bowling at the top of the innings, today it wasn’t to be.”