Number 8: Shahid Afridi goes bananas
It is probably fair to say that Shahid ‘Boom Boom’ Afridi hadn’t done much to justify his nickname ahead of the Blast quarter-final against Derbyshire Falcons. In fact, he’d scored exactly 50 runs in ten knocks batting at number eight in the 2017 campaign.
Not to be deterred by this, the enigmatic Pakistani made a plea with Hampshire skipper James Vince to move him up the order for the crunch visit to Derby.
With Hampshire playing the Falcons for the first ever time in T20 cricket, captain Vince opted to roll the dice by promoting Afridi to open the batting. Was it just a punt or was there more to it?
Derbyshire’s Wayne Madson had been highly effective bowling the first overs of the innings in 2017, typically going at under six an over in the power play. The Falcons game plan would be for him to bowl the first ball to either Hampshire’s young opener Calvin Dickenson or the recalled Michael Carberry.
Derbyshire’s bowler and fielders took their usual places, ready for action. Dickenson stood patiently at the side of the pitch without an opening partner.
Cue Afridi, running down the pavilion steps and straight out to the middle to take the first ball of the match. The first over from Madson was pummelled for 16 and the element of surprise appeared to have worked. On balance Vince might have taken this early injection of aggression, but the show was only just beginning.
What followed was outrageous. In 51 minutes of free-spirited hitting the Derbyshire Falcons attack was smashed far and wide, and Boom Boom was back with a maiden T20 hundred from 42 balls.
It was all over in 12.2 overs of mayhem, a whirlwind. An innings Derbyshire Falcons fans will feel unlucky to have witnessed, but many would earmark as one of the most amazing knocks of the summer.
Full highlights here: