England went one up in their three-match Twenty20 series against Australia with a thrilling eight-run win in Perth on Sunday. After Australia were set an imposing 209 for victory, the home side at one stage looked like pulling off an unlikely win on the back of a fine 73 from David Warner and some big hitting from Marcus Stoinis. But some inspired fast bowling in the latter stages from Mark Wood (3-34) and Sam Curran (2-35) saw England home as Australia finished their 20 overs eight runs short.
Earlier, England openers Alex Hales and captain Jos Buttler smashed a new-look Australian attack to all parts of the ground in a brutal display of power hitting as they helped England to 208-6.
While Australia threatened several times, the English were able to strike at key moments to stay on top.
“Australia played really well — they put us under a lot of pressure,” Buttler said.
“We were favourites for large parts of that chase and we needed to take wickets, which is what we did.”
Hales blasted 84 runs from 51 balls and Buttler 68 from 32 deliveries as Australia rested pace trio Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood and leg spinner Adam Zampa.
Their replacements failed to come to terms with the powerful stroke play of the England opening pair, who hit 20 fours and seven sixes between them.
Buttler, back in the side after a two-month injury lay-off, showed no signs of rust as he and Hales smashed 50 off the first five overs and brought up the 100 in just the ninth over.
Nathan Ellis was the pick of the bowlers, taking 3-20 on a batting-friendly wicket with a lightning-fast outfield.
Australia got away to a poor start when Cameron Green was caught behind off Reece Topley in the second over.
Warner and Mitchell Marsh took up the attack and stayed on target, but on 36 Marsh was beaten by an Adil Rashid wrong’un and was bowled, leaving Australia 86-2 after 8.3 overs.
Captain Aaron Finch was run out for 12, but Warner kept the Australians in the hunt, reaching his 50 off 29 balls with a pull shot over mid-wicket off Rashid.
He was joined by Stoinis, who smashed 35 off 15 balls before holing out to Dawid Malan at deep cover off Wood.
Wood struck again three balls later, the dangerous Tim David falling for a duck, caught at backward square leg to leave Australia 158-5.
He then put England firmly in charge when he had Warner caught at backward point.
After 17 overs, Australia were 173-6, needing 36 runs off the last three overs and despite some late hitting from Matthew Wade (21), the target proved too much.
“We got ourselves in a position where we should have won the game, but the disappointing thing is we just couldn’t finish it off,” Finch said.
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