Afridi ‘will be back’ for last eight

Shahid Afridi has been a key player in Hampshire's march to the t20 quarter-final

Shahid Afridi has been a key player in Hampshire's march to the t20 quarter-final

Nic McMurray

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Giles White insists Shahid Afridi will be back in the Hampshire ranks for their Friends Life t20 quarter-final showdown with Durham next month.

The Pakistan all-rounder is back in his homeland visiting his ill father but has assured Rose Bowl staff and his team-mates that he will be back in time for the last eight clash as the Royals bid to defend their crown.

Last night’s final group fixture with Middlesex was abandoned because of rain after the Royals had made a promising start to the game in the 13 overs of play.

But regardless, Hampshire had already confirmed their place as south group winners and will now play the fourth-placed side in the north group at the Rose Bowl between August 6-8.

While there were doubts over whether Afridi would return, Hampshire manager White is expecting back the man known as Boom Boom for his aggressive batting style.

White said: ‘As far as I’m aware, he is definitely coming back for the quarter-final.

‘He’s a very fine player and he’s performed extremely well for us in the qualifiers.

‘He’s very keen to come back. His father is not very well but when he left, he said he would be back for the quarter-final whatever.

‘So we hope to see him four days before the quarter-final.’

While it was a disappointing end to the qualification phase in front of a bumper crowd of more than 8,000 last night, the Royals were 116 for two and looking at a big total, with Neil McKenzie (38 not out) and Sean Ervine (34 not out) in blistering form before the rain arrived.

And with Hampshire set to switch their attentions to the CB40 clash at Leicestershire tomorrow, White is keen to maintain momentum.

He said: ‘It’s been really encouraging the way we’ve played.

‘We’ve played some good cricket in this competition.

‘It was disappointing not to finish the game after a big turned up.

‘But what the crowd did see was some very fine batting for the 13 overs that we were out there.

‘The batsmen looked in good form and, hopefully, we can take that good form into the quarter-finals.

‘The game at Leicester is an opportunity for some players and we might rest a couple.

‘It’s about keeping one-day cricket momentum going. We can use that game as a lead-up to the quarter-final.’

Meanwhile, White has confirmed that Simon Jones will be returning to the club next week after his one-month loan spell at Glamorgan.

The former England bowler was loaned out, while David Balcombe is currently with Kent on a similar deal to get match action.

White said: ‘Simon is going to come back to us at the end of the loan period but he’s done well there.

‘David has done brilliantly at Kent and it’s great to see.

‘It’s good to know that we have a bowler of that quality ready to come in and play his part when it’s right.’

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