Mitchell Johnson picked up three wickets to help Australia record a tense 4 run victory over England at the MCG as the hosts snapped a five game t20 international losing streak.
The victory was set up by a maiden half century from Victorian Aaron Finch who smashed 53 from just 33 deliveries after the Aussies had slumped to just 80-5 after 12 overs.
The 4 run defeat, only the second on their tour of Australia brought an end to the t20 World Cup champion’s record eight game t20 international winning streak
Faced with a run chase of 148 Ian Bell got England’s run chase off to a perfect start thanks to a brisk 39 during an opening stand with Steve Davies which added 60 runs before Bell was bowled by Mitchell Johnson in the 8th over.
The opener only scored 3 fours during his time at the crease as but he played the ball into the gaps at the MCG to great effect picking up one’s and two’s with ease.
Johnson maintained the pressure by removing Kevin Pietersen (1) three balls later after the batsman attempted to full drive a poor delivery which was held on to by Cameron White in the covers to leave England 62-2.
Paul Collingwood’s run of poor form continued as the England skipper added just 6 runs before he was caught by David Warner at mid off after a poorly timed shot off the bowling of Shane Watson.
The loss of the skipper brought danger man Eoin Morgan to the crease but England’s hero from Wednesday was unable to repeat his heroics as the visitor’s middle order got bogged down as the Aussie’s took control of the game.
England’s hopes weren’t helped with the loss of Davies (29) and Luke Wright (18) but with Morgan at the crease a tense finale was set up with the visitors needing 36 more runs from the final 3 overs.
The Aussies kept their cool though as Johnson removed Morgan (14) at the start of the 18th over after the England danger man was caught by Steven Smith at deep mid wicket as the home side to take control of the game.
Despite the loss; Tim Bresnan (15) and Chris Woakes (11) remained positive with a 30 run partnership which almost stole the game for England after Woakes smashed Brett Lee for a massive six over long to leave the visitors needing 7 from the last two balls to pull off a stunning fightback.
Having won the toss the Aussies got off to fantastic start but a middle order collapse left them 80-5 before Steven Smith (13) and Finch (51) shared a 6th wicket stand of 51 to give the home side fresh hope.
Having won the toss Australia got off to another good start during the power play overs with openers David Warner and Shane Watson unsettling the England bowlers during an opening stand of 37.
Watson (17), having already smashed two huge sixes into the crowd looked set for another big score but the tables were turned at the start of the 5th over when he was caught by Eoin Morgan at deep square leg off the bowling of Chris Woakes.
Wicket keeper Tim Paine, picked ahead of Brad Haddin added a quick fire 21 to help Australia reach a total of 57-1 after the opening 6 overs of the fielding restrictions.
The course of the game changed however with the introduction of Graeme Swann who came into the attack in the 7th over to pick up the wicket of Paine from just his 5th delivery of the match to leave the Aussies 63-2.
England further increased the pressure on the Aussies by removing Warner (30), Cameron White (0) and a pedestrian David Hussey, 8 from 16, as Yardy (2-19) and Swann (2-19) tore through the middle order.
The sudden collapse left the Aussies, who came into the clash at the MCG on the back of a 5 game international t20 losing streak 80-5 after 11.5 overs.
With the pressure mounting Finch lead a perfect rear guard action on his home ground with an impressive half century, his first for Australia to help the home side fight back.
Supported by Smith (13) and to a lesser extent Steve O’Keefe (1) the Victorian batsman smashed 4 fours and 2 sixes during his 33 ball innings to give to the Aussies fresh hope of ending England’s eight game t20 international wining streak.