Hales_Final
Alex Hales scored 145 runs at 18.12 in the recently concluded series against Pakistan © Getty Images

England opener Alex Hales‘ miserable week got worse when he was out for a duck during county side Nottinghamshire‘s eight-run Twenty20 Blast semi-final defeat by Northamptonshire at Edgbaston on Saturday. Nottinghamshire, chasing 162 to win, were held to 153 for nine. Andre Russell, bidding to win two domestic Twenty20 titles in a matter of weeks after helping the Jamaica Tallawahs to Caribbean Premier League glory, made a rapid 39 off 18 balls, with three sixes and four fours, for Nottinghamshire. Also read: ICC to conduct technology trial for front foot no-balls in ENG vs PAK ODIs

But the West Indies all-rounder was out to a superb catch by a diving Rob Keogh on the mid-wicket boundary following a fierce pull off South Africa’s Rory Kleinveldt. The big-hitting Russell’s departure left Nottinghamshire 90 for five. They got their target down to 15 runs off the last over with one wicket left but it proved beyond tailenders Jake Ball and Harry Gurney.

Earlier, Ben Duckett’s quickfire 84 propelled Northamptonshire from 15 for three to 161 for eight. Hales was fined 15 percent of his match fee, approximately £1,500 ($1,960), for showing dissent towards third umpire Joel Wilson following his first-innings dismissal in England’s 10-wicket fourth Test defeat by Pakistan at The Oval last week. 

The 27-year-old now has a modest Test average of under 28 and is sweating on a place in England’s squad for their tours of Bangladesh and India later this year. But he was looking forward to his trip to Edgbaston. “Finals Day is a pretty special occasion at one of my favourite grounds in the world,” Hales told the Guardian on Tuesday. “It will be great not to have to leave the ball too — I’m looking forward to playing at those wide ones.”

Unfortunately for Hales, he was bowled for a second-ball duck, trying to drive, on Saturday after Kleinveldt uprooted his off stump with a delivery that went through a large gap between bat and pad. Also read: Haseeb Hameed beats Michael Atherton

Duckett and Alex Wakely (53), the Northamptonshire captain, shared a key fourth-wicket stand of 132 in 82 balls. Left-hander Duckett has been in superb form this season, with his unbeaten 220 from just 131 balls for England’s second-string Lions against Sri Lanka A a highlight. Despite his heavy run-scoring, the uncapped Duckett, 21, was not included for England’s upcoming five-match one-day international series against Pakistan.

But he did his chances of an international call-up no harm with a dashing 47-ball knock, including 12 fours and two sixes, against Nottinghamshire. “It’s always difficult when you’ve lost wickets in the powerplay; but the wicket was very nice to bat on,” Duckett told Sky Sports.

“I got a few boundaries away and then tried not to let the spinners and (Steven) Mullaney settle. But that’s only half of the job done.” Duckett was especially severe on England left-arm spinner Samit Patel, reverse-sweeping and driving him for two huge sixes.

Patel’s four wicketless overs cost 42 runs. Nottinghamshire and England paceman Stuart Broad praised Duckett’s innings by telling BBC Radio’s Test Match Special: “Ben Duckett played a brilliant knock and you only need one person to come off like that to win a semi-final.” Also read: ECB to send security team to BAN ahead of ENG’s tour

Duckett repeatedly flicked balls legside as he went across his stumps, although this proved his undoing when he was bowled behind his legs by Ball. “He hit the ball to unusual places,” said Nottinghamshire coach and England selector Mick Newell of Duckett.

Wakely was run out off the penultimate delivery of the innings to end a sound 45-ball knock including nine fours. Northamptonshire, the 2013 champions, will face the winners of Saturday’s second semi-final between treble-chasing Yorkshire and Durham in the third match of the day at Edgbaston.