New boy Aaron Finch struck an unbeaten 50 as Australia ended England’s run of eight straight Twenty20 victories with a four-run triumph in Melbourne on Friday.
The match went to the last ball but Tim Bresnan could only manage a single when a six would have snatched a win. Finch made 53 off 33 balls on a slow pitch as the hosts, batting first, recovered from 80-5 to post 147-7.
Ian Bell (39) gave England a bright start, but a lack of boundaries cost the tourists as they finished on 143-6. England looked buried when they went into the final over needing 18 for victory.
That had become 13 from three balls before Chris Woakes, England’s debut hero in Adelaide two days earlier, smashed Brett Lee for six over long on to ignite hopes of a last-gasp turnaround.
But a mistimed pull off the next delivery brought a single run, and Bresnan could only pick out deep extra cover with his attempted heave off the final ball. It was a deserved victory for a powerful Australian side, who struck 14 boundaries to England’s eight on a vast Melbourne outfield. Mitchell Johnson took three wickets and Shane Watson posted a miserly spell of 2-17 from his four overs as the hosts ended their own dismal run of five straight Twenty20 defeats to draw the series 1-1.
Despite their losing streak, Australia did not look a team short of confidence as, after winning the toss and choosing to bat, they got off to a bright start with the powerful duo of David Warner and Shane Watson tucking into the bowling of Woakes and Ajmal Shahzad.
The consistent Watson picked up where he left off in Adelaide with two huge sixes, but he came unstuck in Woakes’ third over when a leg-sided swipe went straight to Eoin Morgan in the deep.
The wicket did not stem the flow of runs, with Tim Paine smashing his second ball for six over mid-on as Australia reached a healthy 57-1 off the first six-over power play. With his pacemen struggling, Paul Collingwood turned to his spin duo of Michael Yardy and Graeme Swann and the tactic paid dividends as four wickets fell for 17 in runs in the next five overs.
Swann repeated his uncanny knack of taking a wicket in the first over of a spell as Paine top-edged a slog-sweep to Collingwood, who recovered from an uncharacteristic fumble to bag the catch at the second attempt.
Not to be outdone, Yardy struck with his second ball as an off-balance Warner picked out Kevin Pietersen at long-on to fall for 30.
Mitchell Johnson took three wickets and Shane Watson posted a miserly spell of 2-17 from his four overs.
T20 World Cup