Tom Curran held on to his spirits as England beat Australia by two runs in a final thriller to win the first Twenty20 international in Southampton on Friday and score 1-0 in a three-game run. Australia, in their first competitive match of nearly six months due to the coronavirus, made light work of a target of 163, while captain Aaron Finch (46) and David Warner (58) played 98 for the first wicket. But star hitter Steve Smith’s exit for just 18 balls led to a collapse that saw Australia lose four wickets for nine runs in 14 balls.
Chris Jordan, in his 50th game at this level, gave up just four runs in the penultimate period that ended with Ashton Agar.
A target of 15 from six balls became five from one.
But Marcus Stoinis, who had previously hit Curran in the over six, couldn’t get another six needed for a win or the four that would have balanced the scores and turned the game into a Super Over.
“I thought the bowlers were really good in the last eight overs,” England captain Eoin Morgan told Sky Sports.
“We managed to get the ball talking a little bit, Adil (Rashid) took those two major wickets to get in that middle order and expose it a little bit.”
“Keep coming hard”
Meanwhile, Finch said he or Warner should have seen Australia home.
“We knew England would keep coming hard and they did very well,” he said.
“I would probably be more critical of myself and Davey, who got us off to a good start and neither of us pushed through to make a race-winning contribution.”
Finch was soon in his stride with a drawn foursome express fast bowler Jofra Archer – who played his first white-ball international since winning the decisive Super Over in England’s 50-over World Cup final victory over New Zealand at Lord’s last year.
And on a site where he made 156 in a Twenty20 international against England in 2013, Finch hit leg spinner Adil Rashid – arguably the host’s best current T20 bowler – for 14 runs in three balls, with a massive six-cylinder, followed by two extra cover-powered fours.
England only took a wicket over the 11th past when Finch was unable to free Jordan mid-match after levying Archer.
Rashid then gave England hope with two wickets in five balls en route to 2-29, with Smith caught in depth before all-rounder Glenn Maxwell (one) hit him straight to Morgan with a short extra cover.
Archer then threw Warner off his pads to end the lefthanded’s 47-ball innings with four fours.
Australia now had two new batsmen to zero and Alex Carey had made just one when he was bowled by fast bowler Mark Wood – one of three 50-over World Cup winners to be recalled by England, along with Jos Buttler and Archer, after the towed T20 series against Pakistan.
Previously, Australia held England at 162-7 after Finch won the coin toss.
Kane Richardson took 2-13 from three overs and the occasional off-spinner Glenn Maxwell 2-14 from his three.
England was on track for a big total while opener Buttler made 44.
But Dawid Malan’s 66 – the left-handed eighth score of fifty or more in just 14 T20 international innings – was the only other significant contributor.
Maxwell removed the dangerman Morgan for just five when he flew above Maxwell and Smith, from a long run, held a good catch under the Ageas Bowl spotlight. Malan completed a 37 ball fifty before hitting Richardson.
The bio-secured, behind closed doors, series continues on Sunday in Southampton.
Topics mentioned in this article