Australia has collapsed in a heap to hand England a shock win in the opening T20 match of its UK Tour.
The hosts secured a nailbiting two-run win after the Aussies botched their run chase despite dominating for the first half of their innings.
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Australia was in cruise control, motoring to 0-98 in the 11th over in pursuit of England’s 7/162 before Aaron Finch was the first man out, caught for 46 off 32 balls.
Steve Smith came to the crease and looked in good touch, easing to 18 before he was dismissed by leg-spinner Adil Rashid — prompting a disastrous collapse.
Glenn Maxwell fell in the same over, David Warner departed two runs later for a classy 58 and Alex Carey (1) had his stumps knocked over by Mark Wood.
The visitors had lost 4/9 and soon that was 5/24 when Ashton Agar was run out for four. They went from the box seat, needing 39 from 36 balls with nine wickets in hand, to under the pump in the blink of an eye.
Marcus Stoinis was the lone hope for the Aussies as they headed into the final over requiring 15 for victory. A huge six gave the men in gold some hope and two runs off the penultimate delivery left them needing five to win.
But paceman Tom Curran delivered the perfect yorker at the death and Stoinis could only manage two, finishing unbeaten on 23.
“Australia has thrown away a game they should have won,” ex-England captain Nasser Hussain said in commentary.
Shane Warne added: “They (England) had no right to win but showed great courage to come back.”
Maxwell, as he often does, came in for plenty of criticism over his ugly shot against Rashid on the final ball of the tweaker’s spell to give England a sniff.
Will Macpherson, cricket writer for English publication the Evening Standard, said on Twitter it was a “spectacular implosion from Australia”.
“Unnecessary risk from Smith and a horrible shot from Maxwell in Rashid’s last over let England in and the quicks held their nerve very nicely indeed,” he wrote.
Hussain said Rashid’s last ball was the time to “use your brain” but Aussie skipper Finch defended Maxwell and Smith for the nature of their dismissals, instead placing the blame on the top order for not going on with their starts.
“They were both playing to a game plan,” Finch said.
“I’m more critical of myself and Davy (Warner) … neither of us kicked on for a matchwinning contribution.”
Earlier in the match England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler started with a bang by belting a quickfire 44 off 29 balls while No. 3 Dawid Malan anchored the innings with an impressive 66 from 43 balls before he was the final wicket to fall in the 19th over.
There was precious little else from England’s batsmen as the home side lost wickets regularly. Spinners Ashton Agar (2/32 from four overs) and Maxwell (2/14 from three overs) were excellent for Australia but leggie Adam Zampa came in for some stick from Malan, going wicketless and conceding 47 runs from his four overs.