Shahid Afridi could not have picked a better stage to show he has lost of none of his skills. The maverick Pakistani all-rounder rolled back the years with emphatic pulls and brutal lofted drives against the helpless Northern Warriors, sending Pakhtoons to the final of the T10 League on Saturday.
It was a performance that brought back memories of the old Afridi. But when the 37-year-old Afridi walked in to bat in the sixth over, Pakhtoons – 57/4 at that stage after being put into bat – things were not looking great for his team.
And coming into this game, he had scored just eight runs in the tournament. But Afridi (59 not out, 17 balls, 3 fours, 7 sixes) rediscovered his game – one that once made him one of the most dangerous batsmen in the world.
Pakhtoons beat Northern Warriors in the 1st Qualifier of T10 League. Northern Warriors who played brilliantly in the group stage of the T10 League and remain on top after winning five out of their six matches, failed to won the 1st Qualifier and lost against Pakhtoons by 13 runs.
However, they would be getting another chance in the day’s third match- The Eliminator. In the meantime, Shahid Afridi’s team made their way to the final on December 02.
The Warriors won the toss and elected to bowl first. Andre Fletcher and Cameron Delport opened, but both failed to make good impact with the bat in hand.
Hardus Viljoen dismissed Andre Fletcher for 14 at a run-a-ball, Windies all-round cricketer Andre Russell accounted for Delport’s prized wicket. Colin Ingram also perished after promising with a couple of boundaries from four balls.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Shafiqullah Shafiq made 22 runs from 10 balls with three fours and a six to inject momentum into the innings. Englishman Ravi Bopara got rid of the batsman from Afghanistan.
Thereafter, skipper Afridi came into his own with a knock of 59 from 17 balls, laced with three fours and seven sixes. The onslaught helped Pakhtoons score 133 runs in their 10 runs.
While chasing the target Pakhtoon restricted Northern Warriors to 122.
Shahid Afridi who in an interview said that the T10 format could be cricket’s gateway to the Olympics.
“I think this is the best cricket you can introduce in the Olympics,” Afridi told ESPNcricinfo.
The allrounder added that the T10 format could be used to show the world what cricket is all about.
“I think you can take the game there and show the world what cricket is all about. I think this is the perfect format to introduce cricket and we are all enjoying it, which is the main thing.”
Afridi isn’t the only international cricketer to have this view. England’s Eoin Morgan told ESPNcricinfo that T10 could be a format which can be potentially proposed to an Olympic committee.