Aadil relishing Foxes' T20 run

Local lad Aadil Ali is ready for one of the biggest games of his career as Leicestershire Foxes face Glamorgan in the NatWest T20 Blast quarter-finals this evening.

The 22-year-old has seized his opportunity in the competition and has offered the Foxes plenty with bat, ball and in the field.

Having cheered on his hometown county from the stands as a boy, Aadil is now living his dream on the field and is determined to help the team qualify for Finals Day at Edgbaston.

“Myself, Wellsy [Tom Wells], and Lew [Lewis Hill] came through the system here and have seen the team lift the trophy before,” said Aadil.

“I remember watching John Sadler play his part in winning the trophy when I was growing up, and he is now our coach. We are now in that position and it means everything to us. It’s a special feeling.

“It’s probably only just sunk in that we’re playing a quarter final in the NatWest T20 Blast. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster having won the first four, then losing a few and winning four must-win games to get into this position. The game at Notts was the best I have ever played in.

“The boys deserve massive credit, especially Clint [McKay], who has put self-belief in every player and giving them his backing. He’s helped to pick the team back up after a difficult run and told us that we are a good cricket team and to believe in our ability.

“Winning against Northants, Yorkshire and Derbyshire set it up and then to win at Nottinghamshire, it feels like a bit of fairytale. It took a great innings from Cameron Delport who stepped up when it mattered. Roncs [Luke Ronchi] obviously didn’t have his day but Cam’s knock took us to a good score and showed what a player he is.”

Aadil was not required with the bat on Friday but has worked tirelessly on his off-spin, which has played a crucial role in the last three victories.

The all-rounder, who had not bowled a ball in the competition before the Yorkshire game, took 1 for 31 from four overs against a powerful visiting line-up.

Aadil also bowled tidily against Derbyshire and dismissed visiting dangermen Wayne Madsen and Luis Reece as part of a brilliant spell of 2 for 22 at the start of the innings.

He claimed the key wicket of Alex Hales on Friday night in a performance that showed great character after the England international had sent his first four deliveries to the fence.

Aadil is pleased that the hard yards are paying off and feels that is a theme for a lot of his teammates too, including Mathew Pillans, who showed nerves of steel to get the team over the line in Nottingham.

“I felt the force of it from the first four balls of the powerplay to Alex [Hales] but it was important to get his wicket,” said Aadil.

“It is T20 cricket and an off-spinner bowling in the powerplay is expected to be whacked to be fair. I knew that if I bowled in the right area I had a chance and luckily the fifth ball he chipped up and Ackers [Colin Ackermann] got under it nicely and it was a big wicket in the end.

“It’s not nice going for four boundaries but it ended well. Against Yorkshire it probably shocked them when I bowled early on and it came out well against players such as David Willey and Tom Kohler-Cadmore. When they did the pre-match chats they probably didn’t discuss it [Aadil’s bowling] too much.

“I’ve worked hard on my off-spin in the nets with [Assistant Coach] Carl Crowe and it’s a side to my game I am taking very seriously. Cam [Cameron Delport] can score 100s and also do a great job with the ball and it adds another string to your bow.

“This year we’ve all tried to put an extra 20 per cent into a different area, whether it be fielding or a lower order batsman practicing hitting some boundaries. It can make the difference in the game. Mathew Pillans showed this as he hit the last ball of our innings for four. That, and his sensational last over, made all of the difference. That four meant that they needed four off the last ball.

“When you watch Mathew in practice sessions he concentrates on nailing his yorkers every time, and as they say, practice makes perfect. I am really happy for him as he’s tough on himself if he doesn’t achieve what he aims for. It shows hard work pays off.”

The attention to detail, ability to constructively criticise a performance, and not get too carried away or downbeat with results have been key traits in the Foxes’ run so far.

But Leicestershire were entitled to be pleased with their efforts in front of a packed crowd at Notts on Friday night and now cannot fail to take confidence and momentum to Cardiff.

Aadil is naturally looking forward to a second consecutive game in front of a big crowd at a test match venue and summed up exactly what it means to everybody at the club.

He said: “Winning was a great feeling and getting through to the last eight in this competition is massive to the club. The four-day competition hasn’t been ideal but our attention is on the game against Glamorgan. We’re riding the rollercoaster and hopefully we can make it to Finals Day.

“Credit to the fans, they have supported us all of the way through and I know we’ll have a few coming to Cardiff too. During the game all you think about is doing the basics well - batting, bowling and fielding - but seeing the fans reactions at Trent Bridge and on social media was great to see.

“We knew that 200 was about par on Friday, as if we had bowled first and restricted them to around 200 with their batting line up and the short boundary, it would be chasable. We knew it only took one guy like [Dan] Christian did to score 70 off of 30 balls to get them close, and so it proved.

“But we also knew that if we hit our potential we could defend the score. We have beaten some quality sides and know we can give Glamorgan a good game by playing good cricket.

“We shouldn’t worry too much about the result; we need to do the basics well and enjoy the occasion. If we can do that, the result will take care of itself."