Kashif Ali says nerve-free batting is the key to his success after he played what he described as his best innings for Worcestershire in their Metro Bank One Day Cup win over Derbyshire at the Incora County Ground.
He came to the wicket at 106-3 and smashed 88 off just 36 balls with seven sixes and eight fours in a knock described as sensational by Head Coach Alan Richardson.
Kashif was on course for Worcestershire’s fastest ever List A century – 46 balls by Moeen Ali off Northamptonshire at Kidderminster in 2007 – before his dismissal.
With Jake Libby and Rob Jones setting the platform with another fine third wicket stand of 95, Kashif was able to play with great freedom and lift Worcestershire to 254-5 from 30 overs.
He said: “This has to be my best knock for Worcestershire and I’m very pleased, and more than that, it was a team win.
“I think the Jake and Rob partnership was really key after losing two wickets up top and setting a platform.
“Batters could come in and play with a bit of freedom and that platform gave us good momentum.
“Then when we went out to bowl, there was a clear plan of what to do on that wicket and we did that really well.”
Kashif added: “Do I get nervous? I do not. I like backing my shots and I like backing the stuff I’ve been training and doing during the winter.
“I think as a batter, if you are worried about playing a shot, then it doesn’t really come off.
“I think you’ve got to be a bit brave and score and have fun, try and enjoy it, and when it comes off, it comes off good.
“I tell myself just to watch the ball and keep still and I’ve been working on my skills with Jonesy and Kadeer and Richo during the winter which helped me quite a lot.
“I’m loving the environment and the boys are really good and back each and every player that is in the changing room.”
Richardson said: “I’ve seen some pretty good innings in my time, and been on the end of them sometimes, but that was sensational today.
The controlled hitting, the options he took, the way he went about it, was really smart.
“He executed a lot of magnificent shots and it was one of the best innings I’ve seen in white ball cricket.
“I don’t think 250 was on our radar and Kash should be extremely proud of that innings and certainly the boys enjoyed it on the balcony.
“He put them under pressure and it never felt reckless. I always felt he was in complete control of how he was going about his business.
“We always ask in white ball cricket to have as many match winners as possible and he has been a huge part of us winning that game.
“There were some outstanding individual performances but, in terms of how the team went about it, I thought it was a really comprehensive performance which gave us the platform to win the game.”
Worcestershire’s bowlers ensured victory was completed in emphatic fashion.
Richardson said: “It was about trying to stay nice and calm which the group have done throughout the season.
“We knew they would come out pretty hard and all the info we had coming back was that it was a very good wicket.
“We knew it was going to be a challenging powerplay with only two fielders out and they’ve got a powerful batting line-up.
“It was important to stay calm, thinking about continually trying to take wickets, and do the basics really well and bowl to our strengths.
“Luis Reece played really well but they were always going to need a decent rate throughout so we always felt we would have a chance if we kept our composure.”