Despite Steve Smith’s 90, England took wickets late on to secure a five-run victory against Australia in the one-off T20 in Cardiff on Monday.
England’s 182-5 didn’t look enough following a century stand between Glen Maxwell and Australian captain Steve Smith, but Smith lost his wicket in the penultimate over, which ultimately proved his side’s undoing.
Australia, playing their first T20 international since November, were looking for a quick reprieve after conceding the Ashes urn to England, and they got off to a good start as they removed England openers Alex Hales and Jason Roy after winning the toss and electing to field.
Pat Cummins accounted for both Hales and Roy, but Moeen Ali and skipper Eoin Morgan knuckled down. Once the pair had their eye in, finding the boundary became simple, as Morgan became England’s highest-ever run-scorer in the format, before both players brought up their fifties.
Morgan blasted seven sixes in his 74, before their impressive stand of 135 came to an end. Jos Buttler produced a cameo of 11, but the run-rate slowed as Moeen was kept quiet at the other end. Sam Billings faced seven balls for his two runs, before they eventually finished 182-5, with Moeen not out on 72 off 46 balls.
The tourists endured a similar start to the English with the early departures of both openers. David Warner top-edged one off the last ball of David Willey’s first over, before Shane Watson blocked one that trickled agonisingly on to his stumps off Steve Finn’s bowling.
It was another third-wicket stand that produced the runs however, as Smith and Maxwell went about rebuilding before unleashing. A fifty stand became a century stand in no time at all as Maxwell used his recent experience with Yorkshire in the Natwest T20 blast to great effect.
He departed for 44 which gave England hope, but Smith, who notched up a maiden T20 international fifty, then went past his best score of 78 in the format to edge the Australians closer.
He lost his wicket however at a crucial period. Mitchell Marsh fell for 13 in the 18th over, while Smith departed for 90 in the penultimate over, leaving Australia with 12 to win off the final over. It proved too much for the visitors, as Ben Stokes held his nerve with two run-outs and a wicket, leaving Australia five runs short.
Another win in the bag for England over their old foes, as the first of five ODIs gets underway on Thursday.
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