Sharjah: Shahid Afridi fired Pakhtoons into the final of the second edition of the T10 past the Northern Warriors in the qualifier at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Saturday.
With an unbeaten 59 off 17 balls (three boundaries and seven sixes), Afridi displayed again why he is the evergreen hero of the Sharjah Stadium fans and gave his team a fighting total of 135 for five in 10 overs. Warriors fell short of the target by 13 runs despite a belligerent unbeaten 80 from Rovman Powell, off 35 balls, with nine sixes and four boundaries.
Answering to a query from Gulf News on what’s the secret behind his age-defying performances. Afridi said: “There is no secret. I am doing my training as I am still playing cricket and have to be fitter. My team’s expectation from me is high and as a captain, I have to set an example while playing against a very good team. We did not start well according to the plan but as a captain, I performed at the right time as people were also waiting for my innings as well. Now, we are very confident of winning the next game (final) too.” Sent into bat, Pakhtoon openers Andre Fletcher and Cameron Delport could put on only nine runs between them before Andre Russell scalped Delport for five and Hardus Viljoen got the prize wicket of in-form Fletcher for 14.
Ingram began by hitting Viljoen for a six and four but fell to the last ball of that over for 11. Pakhtoons slipped into further trouble when Shafiq too fell for 22 to Ravi Bopara in the sixth over.
Afridi walked into the crease to a thunderous applause from the crowd that appealed to him for a six. He hit Bopara for a six to backward square leg and Russell for another six over long off. Liam Dawson too pulled Russell for a six.
The eighth over saw Afridi in full flow — pulling Wahab Riaz to fine leg for a six and to long-off for another six. He also square cut Riaz for a six and then hit another six over long-on to get four consecutive sixes and score 26 runs off the over. Dawson fell to Viljoen for 15 in the ninth over after he added 57 runs in 3.2 overs with Afridi.
The next three balls from Viljoen, Afridi hit for three consecutive boundaries to reach his half century in 14 balls. Afridi continued to punish Riaz and hit him over deep mid-wicket for a six and remained unbeaten with an inspiring knock.
Chasing the score, Northern Warriors’ dangerous opening pair of Lendl Simmons and Nicholas Pooran could put only 15 runs. Mohammad Irfan removed the in-form Pooran with a short delivery that he hooked uppishly to R.P. Singh for five. Off the next ball, Russell was brilliantly run out through a direct hit from Sohail Khan for a duck.
Rovman Powell and Simmons tried to accelerate the run-rate by taking 15 runs off Singh’s over. In the fourth over from Sharaffuddin Ashraf, Powell hit one four and two sixes to take 17 runs off the over but Afridi bowled a brilliant fifth over giving away just five runs. Sohail Khan too bowled a brilliant sixth over giving away eight runs. Powell hit Afridi for two consecutive sixes in the seventh over to take 21 runs off the over to light up hopes of a victory but fell in the next over to Irfan for 24. Powell hit two consecutive boundaries off Irfan and six to take 15 runs off the over.
With 39 runs needed off the last 12 balls, Powell hit Sohail Khan for two sixes to square leg but still needed 24 runs off the last over. Ashraf, who bowled the last over, had Dwayne Smith clean bowled for three - brining in Darren Sammy and gave away only 10 runs.