Manchester: Australia beat England by five wickets in the third and final T20I and avoided a series whitewash, regaining their No 1 ranking in the sport’s shortest format at the Ageas Bowl.
England were restricted to 145 for 6 in 20 overs and Australia in reply chased down the target with three balls to spare on Tuesday.
Earlier, Australia skipper Aaron Finch won the toss and invited England to bat first.
England, captained by Moeen Ali for the first time with Eoin Morgan missing after dislocating his finger in the previous match, got off to a bad start.
Tom Banton, who had moved back up to open in absence of Jos Buttler, got out in the second over.
The visitors had to wait until Adam Zampa’s introduction for their next wicket, but he dismissed Dawid Malan and Sam Billings within his first two overs to halt England’s progress even as Jonny Bairstow began to score more freely and reached his fifth T20I half-century (55 in 44 balls).
Australia’s other spinner, Ashton Agar, was the man to end Bairstow’s innings, taking a good catch off his own bowling after making a lot of ground to get under the opener’s top-edged pull shot.
In slog overs, Moeen and Joe Denly managed to provide some late impetus and boosted England up to a challenging total of 145/6.
In reply, Australia’s got off to flying start as they picked up 16 runs from Jofra Archer’s opening over, including a huge six over square leg by Matthew Wade.
Wade fell to Mark Wood but Marcus Stoinis made sure to continue the opener’s work as he put on 39 runs with Finch before being caught in the deep off Tom Curran.
With 60 required from the last 10 overs and eight wickets in hand, Australia looked to be cruising to victory. But Adil Rashid sent Glenn Maxwell and Finch packing in one over before taking a low return catch off Steve Smith to leave the visitors five down.
But England’s fielding was ragged and they spilled several catches before Mitchell Marsh hit a 36-ball 39* though to ensure that their winning position was not wasted, putting on an unbroken 46-run stand with Agar to get Australia over the line with three balls to spare.
The result meant that despite England taking the series 2-1, Australia remain top of the ICC Men’s T20I Team Rankings.
England will now face Australia in three ODIs in Manchester, starting on Friday