Afridi takes four wickets in four balls as Hampshire end T20 Blast horror season with a win against Middlesex

Shaheen Shah Afridi took an incredible four wickets in four balls as Hampshire ended their horror T20 Vitality Blast campaign with victory over Middlesex.

Sunday, 20th September 2020, 4:45 pm
Shaheen Afridi celebrates bowling Tim Murtagh for his fourth wicket in four balls. Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images.

Pakistan fast bowler demolished John Simpson, Stephen Finn, Thilan Walallawita and Tim Murtagh’s stumps in consecutive deliveries to blow away the visitors.

Having returned a disappointing 1-191 in his first six outings, he celebrated an incredible 6-19 – Hampshire’s best ever T20 bowling figures and only the county’s second format hat-trick in their history behind Dimi Mascarenhas at Hove in 2014.

Afridi is only the eighth bowler to ever take six wickets in an English domestic T20 match - and the last was his team-mate James Fuller, who bagged 6-28 for Middlesex AGAINST Hampshire at The Ageas Bowl two years ago.

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Rearranging the stumps - Tim Murtagh is bowled to give Shaheen Afridi his fourth wicket in four balls. Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images.

Afridi’s hat-trick - the 26th in English T20 cricket - ensured Hampshire ended a six-game losing spell to win by 22 runs, although it still couldn’t prevent them from finishing bottom of the group stage for the first time since 2007.

Hampshire needed quick wickets in their defence of 141 for nine, and Felix Organ continued the trend of ‘spin it to win it’ as he opened the bowling with his off-spin and had 20-year-old Jack Davies lbw.

Off spinner Organ had Joe Cracknell caught at point by Joe Weatherley in his second over – the 21-year-old bowling three overs in the powerplay for 2-13.

Afridi claimed his maiden Ageas Bowl wicket for the county when he yorked Steve Eskinazi – who ended the group stage as the tournament’s second leading scorer with 413 runs.

Thilan Walallawita is bowled to give Shaheen Afridi his hat-trick. Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images.

Ryan Stevenson bowled Nathan Sowter with a slower ball before Mason Crane continued the spin domination when Tom Alsop stumped Martin Andersson.

Simpson threatened a comeback for the visitors as the run-rate climbed, adding 25 with Luke Hollman before Afridi turned the latter’s off stump into a javelin.

Wicketkeeper Simpson (48) helped take 17 off Stevenson in the 16th over, thanks to two huge sixes, as Middlesex required 37 from the last four overs.

But left-armer Afridi, who flies home tomorrow, took four wickets in four balls to provide an explosive end to a below-par season.

Steve Finn is bowled to give Shaheen Afridi his second wicket in successive balls. Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images.

It was the second hat-trick taken by Hampshire this year, after Fuller had taken a treble against Surrey in the Bob Willis Trophy.

Hampshire were given a pre-game boost with the return of Sam Northeast, Joe Weatherley and Mason Crane from the side that had lost to Surrey two days earlier.

They were withdrawn from that game on medical advice, after coming into contact with a person displaying Covid symptoms, while Tom Alsop also returned after missing the last two matches.

Out went George Munsey, Scott Currie, Tom Scriven and Calvin Harrison.

John Simpson is bowled to give Shaheen Afridi his first of four wickets in successive balls. Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images.

Having chosen to bat, Hampshire ground through their innings as partnerships struggled to flourish against an impressive spin performance on a slow pitch.

Middlesex’s spin triplets of Walallawita, Hollman and Nathan Sowter took 8-74 in their 12 combined overs to restrict Hampshire.

James Vince chopped veteran Tim Murtagh onto his off-stump, before Alsop and Sam Northeast laid a solid foundation with a 32-run stand.

But that was as good as the batting got for the hosts as the slow bowlers constricted them.

Alsop (25) was bowled while attempting a slog sweep off leg spinner Hollman and top scorer Northeast (31) nicked Walallawita behind to John Simpson.

Weatherley split the leg side boundary riders with a perfect sweep, before he was plumb lbw when he switched into a reverse.

From 55 for one after eight overs, Hampshire found their recognised batsmen all dismissed by the end of the 17th over on 114 for seven.

The spinners forced the batters to play to the long square boundaries as an impatient Fuller and Organ holed out to long on, while Ian Holland – following a six down the ground – was leg before attempting a huge slog sweep.

The latter two scalps fell to Walallawita on his T20 debut, having impressed with his left-arm spin during the Bob Willis Trophy earlier this summer.

Stevenson found a hat-trick of boundaries off Tom Helm but leggie Sowter returned to bowl him and Chris Wood as Hampshire ended on 141 for nine in their 20 overs.