Alex Hales’ 94 provided the platform for England’s 27-run win against Australia in the second Twenty20 international on Saturday as the two-match series ended all square at 1-1.
Australia, set 196 for victory, finished on 168 for nine at Chester-le-Street with opener Aaron Finch — who made a Twenty20 international record 156 in the tourists’ 39-run win at Southampton on Thursday — out for just five.
David Warner top-scored for Australia with 53, but they were rarely up with the rate as seamer Jade Dernbach took three wickets for 23 runs in his four overs.
Earlier, opening batsman Hales just failed again to become the first England batsman to score a Twenty20 international hundred as he took the hosts to 195 for five.
Australia’s Pakistan-born leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed, wicketless on debut at Southampton, took his first international wickets to finish with three for 25.
Man of the match Hales, who made 99 in a Twenty20 international against the West Indies last year, shared an opening stand of 111 with Michael Lumb (43).
That partnership equaled England’s best for any wicket against Australia in a T20 international, with Craig Kieswetter and Kevin Pietersen having put on 111 for the second wicket in England’s 2010 World Twenty20 final win over their arch-rivals in Barbados.
“I was disappointed not to get a hundred after getting close, Lumby helped me out at the start — he gets going quicker than me,” Hales said at the presentation ceremony.
England Twenty20 captain Stuart Broad added: “After losing the toss, the guys adapted to the conditions really well. It was great to keep wickets in hand as we can set a good platform.”
“Jade has been fantastic in the last few games, we know in Twenty20 that it’s taking wickets that slows the run-rate,” he said.
Australia captain George Bailey said his side had not been at their best.
“It was tough with the wind and we probably didn’t nail our skills as well as we would have liked,” he said.
“We’ll take some good things out of this. Finch’s innings the other night was fantastic, James Faulkner will continue to improve and to have a leg-spinner [Ahmed] is great in Twenty20,” he said.
England ended the initial six-over powerplay on 61 without loss off after a blizzard of boundaries. Hales drove a straight six off Faulkner and left-hander Lumb struck all-rounder Shane Watson high over the long-on rope. However, the first-wicket stand was broken when Lumb top-edged a sweep off Ahmed and was caught behind by wicketkeeper Matthew Wade.
Luke Wright added a quickfire 30 before he was well caught by a leaping Mitchell Johnson at mid-off after driving a Faulkner full-toss.
Hales was caught off the last ball of the penultimate over, by Warner running in from long-on, off Faulkner to end a 61-ball knock featuring 11 fours and two sixes. It was the 24-year-old Hales’s sixth fifty in 21 innings at this level.
In contrast to the first innings, Australia lost early wickets with Finch out to his fifth ball when he top-edged a hook off Broad to Wright at mid-on.
When Watson, sent back by Warner, was run out by Eoin Morgan’s direct hit from backward point, Australia were 15 for two.
Warner and Shaun Marsh repaired some of the early damage with a stand of 67 before the latter was bowled, heaving across the line, by occasional off-spinner Joe Root.
Warner, one ball after being missed by Steven Finn, then holed out off Dernbach to Hales, who was sweeping on the cover fence.
When Dernbach took two wickets in two balls to dismiss Glenn Maxwell and Faulkner to leave Australia 148 for eight in the 18th over, the match was all but over.
England, who won the preceding Ashes Test campaign 3-0, and Australia meet in their third format of the season when a five-match one-day international series starts in Leeds on Friday.
However, both sides will be in one-day international action tomorrow, with England away to Ireland in Malahide and Australia facing Scotland in Edinburgh.