Steve Smith’s highest international T20 score of 90 off 53 balls was not enough to give Australia victory, as England secured a narrow win over the tourists, in front of a boisterous crowd at The SSE SWALEC.
The Australian captain led from the front, hitting seven 4s and four 6s, slaying England’s bowlers to every corner of the ground, as the visitors set about chasing England’s total of 182/5. Smith’s partnership with Maxwell, who hit a fine knock of 44, was worth 112 and looked to have put the tourists in a dominating position.
Maxwell eventually departed thanks to a stunning catch in the deep from Ben Stokes, before Smith chipped the ball straight to Sam Billings at long-on, to leave Australia in the lurch.
After a fine penultimate over by David Willey, Stokes then bowled yorker after yorker, as Australia crumbled. First Matthew Wade was run out, before Nathan Coulter-Nile was caught by Adil Rashid at short third man and then Pat Cummins was dismissed to give England the narrow victory.
Earlier, an exhilarating partnership of 139 off 75 balls between Moeen Ali and Eoin Morgan powered England to a total of 182/5 – recovering from 18/2.
Morgan blazed blistering 74, off just 39 balls to announce his return to the international fray in typical fashion. He smashed three 4s and seven 6s – including a couple that flew into the River Taff – to put England in a commanding position after they were put into bat by Aussie captain Steve Smith at the toss.
Morgan was ably assisted by Moeen Ali, who blasted an unbeaten 72 off 46 balls, including six 4s and three 6s. The pair’s contrasting styles were hugely effective in putting Australia to the sword. While Ali preferred to flick and flay Australia along the floor square of the wicket, Morgan went aerial, repeatedly smacking the ball down the ground.
Jos Buttler came and went, hitting a bright and breezy 11 off 4 balls before being caught by Pat Cummins off Mitchell Starc and Sam Billings made 2 before being run out.
Cummins’ pace had been too much for openers Alex Hales and Jason Roy in the early exchanges. Both batsmen were dismissed in the same over, as England only managed 27/2 off their powerplay overs, before Morgan and Ali staged their fightback.
Despite the odd misfield and Smith’s onslaught, England held their nerve to secure the win by 5 runs amid wild celebrations at The SSE SWALEC.