England prevail in a Twenty20 nailbiter | cricket.com.au

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ENGLAND V AUSTRALIA T20

England prevail in a Twenty20 nailbiter

01 September 2015
MATCH REPORT

Australians go down by five runs despite best efforts of skipper Steve Smith's brilliant 90

England v Australia T20, T20

ENG
AUS

England have withstood a spectacular Steve Smith performance to claim the one-off T20 International by five runs in Cardiff.

Smith blazed 90 from 53 balls in pursuit of England's 5-182, but his exit in the penultimate over left the fresh Australian batsmen too much to do as the home side held their nerve to clinch the win.

Superb Smith falls short for tourists (restrictions apply)

England captain Eoin Morgan led from the front with 74 from 39 balls while Moeen Ali ransacked 72 from 46 as the pair combined for 135 in quick time to propel the hosts to a mammoth first innings total.

In reply it was Smith and Glenn Maxwell who added the starch to Australia's run chase, but a flurry of wickets in the final two overs cost the tourists victory.

"I thought we timed our run pretty well," Smith said. "I thought both innings were actually quite similar; two early wickets from each of us and then a 100 run partnership. 

"They finished off just a little bit better than us with the bat. 

"A couple of their guys came in and hit boundaries early on and I guess our blokes weren’t able to do that at the end and I think that’s what cost us."

It was a tough day for Australia, with the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars also losing their T20 clash, but did receive the Women's Ashes following the match.

Quick Single: Southern Stars lift the trophy

The men's teams now head to Southampton for the five-match one-day international series starting on September 3 at the Ageas Bowl.

Filling in for recuperating captain Aaron Finch, Smith's decision to bowl first was vindicated when Pat Cummins used the most of the pacey pitch to claim two wickets in the fourth over.

Clocking speeds above 150kph, Cummins fired one past Alex Hales on the full to dismember his stumps, doubling the damage three balls later when Nathan Coulter-Nile scrambled well at mid-off to send Jason Roy on his way.

With Ashes star Joe Root rested, Moeen assumed his position at first drop with alacrity. Starting in measured fashion with 10 from 10 deliveries, Moeen welcomed debutant Marcus Stoinis to international cricket with a thumping six over mid-wicket and following it up with an aerial four in front of square next ball for good measure.

Moeen carves in Cardiff (restrictions apply)

Morgan entered this match without playing a competitive game of cricket for a month, but you wouldn't have known it by the way the England captain batted. A crisp cover-drive got his innings purring, but it was against the pace of Mitchell Marsh where Morgan roared, dispatching the allrounder over the River Taff End and into its circling body of water behind it.

The rampaging left-handers brought up their 50 stand from 31 balls as both men passed their own half-century milestones, with Moeen reaching the landmark a ball faster than his skipper.

With the short straight boundaries copping a hammering, Smith resisted using his frontline spinner Cameron Boyce until the 14th over. On reflection, he might have given the Queenslander the day off.

Moeen sprinted down the wicket to the leg-spinner at the first opportunity, sending the white kookaburra flying over long-on, repeating the dose two balls later only bigger and squarer.

Watching on from the non-striker's end, Morgan was keen to join in on the range hitting. His chance came in the following over, bossing Shane Watson over the rope on three occasions as the projected total soared past 200.

Morgan blasts Aussie attack (restrictions apply)

Morgan drilled two more sixes off Cummins in the 16th over, but his search for an eighth six on the day saw him miscue Nathan Coutler-Nile to Watson at the long-on boundary. A handful of centimetres further and it would have been six more.

Jos Buttler kept the momentum going with a four-ball 11, but some crafty bowling from the Australians to new English batsmen and smart fielding kept the total to within striking distance.

Australia's chase mirrored their opponents. David Warner's thick leading edge was swallowed by Steven Finn at third man to give David Willey his first victim before the catcher turned wicket-taker in bizarre fashion.

Watson played Finn but not before the allrounder had a swing and miss with his right boot to watch on in agony as the ball trickled into the off stump.

Watson's bizarre and unlucky dismissal (restrictions apply)

With both openers gone, it was left to Smith and Glenn Maxwell to rebuild the innings and recalibrate their distant target.

It was the Victorian who had the majority of the early strike, cashing in when England overpitched, relying on conventional stroke play and keeping his bag of tricks securely locked away.

Smith got amongst the runs with a straight six off Finn, and when Maxwell recorded three fours off England's debutant left-arm seamer Reece Topley, Australia were ahead of their rivals at the same stage of the match.

Needing nine runs an over the journey of the chase, Australia were content on milking ones, sprinting twos and taking a boundary of each over to keep the required run rate within arm's reach.

Adil Rashid went for five off his first over, but a long-hop cost him six off Maxwell and when he overcorrected to Smith the Australia captain smashed four straight down the ground to bring up his fifty from 30 balls.

Moeen's impact in the match didn't end with the bat, returning in the 14th over to remove Maxwell thanks largely to a terrific catch by Ben Stokes running to his right at long-on and intercepting a bullet headed for the fence.

Maxwell magic cut short by Stokes (restrictions apply)

But while Smith was the crease Australia were favourites to take the sole T20 match of the tour as he edged closer to a maiden T20I century in the closing stages of the innings.

A Topley slower ball removed a slogging Marsh, leaving 20 to win off the final two overs as the packed crowd were left holding their breath with each riveting delivery.

Smith's sliced lofted drive was caught on the rope to end his best innings in T20 cricket and fall within 10 runs of becoming the first skipper in the history of cricket to score a century on captaincy debut.

With 12 needed off the final over, Australia lost their head running for non-existent twos as the pressure mounted.

However it was Stokes and England who blinked last and head to the nation's southern border for 50-over cricket on Thursday.

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