T20 semis heartbreak for Notts

Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club.
Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club.
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Notts Outlaws were beaten in their NatWest T20 Blast semi-final at Edgbaston when they failed to chase down a victory target of 162 against Northants Steelbacks.

Despite a stunning all-round performance from Jamaican superstar Andre Russell, which produced figures of three for 20 and 39 runs from 18 balls, the Outlaws closed on 153 for nine, leaving the Wantage Road side victors by 9 runs.

Apart from Russell’s heroics with the bat, Chris Read was the only other player to reach 30. Steven Crook, with three for 28, was the leading bowler for the winning side.

Ben Duckett and Alex Wakely had combined to lead the Steelbacks from a precarious early position, to put 161 for eight on the board. Duckett took the man of the match award for an innings of 84, made from 47 balls, with 12 fours and two sixes.

In pursuit of their victory target the Outlaws lost Michael Lumb in the first over, caught for two at third man, off Ben Sanderson. His opening partner, Alex Hales, followed in the second over, bowled by Rory Kleinveldt for nought.

Notts’ plight intensified when skipper Dan Christian top-edged Azharullah and Josh Cobb bagged the catch at short fine leg.

Riki Wessels made 24 before falling in the eighth over to a former team-mate. A reverse-sweep in Graeme White’s first over sailed all the way out to Steven Crook on the fence.

Russell change the momentum with a swash-buckling knock, which included three sixes, two off Graeme White’s bowling.

The West Indian justified the decision to bring him back to Trent Bridge with some mighty blows but then cruelly fell to a stunning boundary catch by Rob Keogh.

Samit Patel played nicely for his 21 but then hit a return catch to Crook, who also dismissed Steven Mullaney, one ball after being hit over the ropes.

Read and Stuart Broad led a charmed life, with four chances being spilled in the outfield, and the equation became interesting, with 41 needed from the last four overs.

21 were still needed from 12 balls when Read was caught by White in the deep and after Broad fell in the penultimate over, 15 were still required from the last, which proved beyond the means of Jake Ball and Harry Gurney.

Earlier, Notts made their mark after just four balls of the match. Richard Levi dabbed Andre Russell out on the off side and cautiously called Adam Rossington through for a single. After slightly hesitating, Rossington found himself a yard short as Christian swooped in and executed a run out with a direct hit.

In the second over, a Harry Gurney no ball was punished as Cobb pulled his former Leicestershire team-mate for a maximum from the resulting free hit.

Cobb then tickled the extra delivery down the leg side and Chris Read completed a smart catch, with the umpire seemingly about to signal a wide before noticing that Cobb was walking off.

The dream start got even better for Notts as Russell then pinned Richard Levi lbw for three, to leave Northants 15 for three, having lost three wickets in 11 balls.

Duckett and Wakely mounted a spirited fightback, with the 21-year old left-hander moving to his 50 from 28 balls with seven fours, (including three in a row off Steven Mullaney) and a switch-hit six from the bowling of Samit Patel.

A ramped four off Stuart Broad and a pulled six off Patel took the Northants’ batsman into the 70s and beyond.

Having picked up three wickets in timely fashion at the start of the match, Notts did it again to destabilise the Steelbacks’ innings.

After a fourth wicket stand of 123, Ball bowled Duckett with a full-pitched delivery that pegged back the leg stump, as the batsman danced around trying to find room to execute an unorthodox scoop.

Russell had needed treatment after running around on the boundary edge to make a stop and then hobbling off the field.

He quickly returned to bowl the next over and made it a spectacular re-emergence as he dismissed Kleinveldt and Crook, both thanks to catches at deep midwicket by Hales.

In the closing stages Keogh hit a Ball full toss into the hands of Mullaney at extra cover. Wakely reached his half-century at the start of the final over, but then survived a run out referral as he scampered back to beat substitute Anuj Dal’s throw from the deep.

Wakely got the benefit of the doubt but was then run out later in the over by Read’s under-arm throw.

Northants’ eventual total was several runs under par for the ground but on the day, it was just enough to pip Notts.