Another batting masterclass from veteran opener David Warner wasn’t enough for the Australians on Sunday evening, with England claiming an eight-run victory in the first T20 at Perth Stadium.
England secured a 1-0 lead in the three-match bilateral series after Aaron Finch’s men fell agonisingly short of pulling off a record run chase in the West Australian capital.
It marks the old enemy’s first T20 victory on Australian soil since January 2011.
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England captain Jos Buttler and opening partner Alex Hales combined for a 132-run partnership for the first wicket, demolishing Australia’s second-choice bowling attack in the series opener.
It was England’s second-largest opening partnership in T20 history and the highest opening stand in men’s T20Is on Australian soil.
Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Adam Zampa all missed the first T20 due to workload management, and their deputies were comprehensively outclassed in Perth.
Buttler and Player of the Match Hales cracked 58 runs during the Powerplay, slapping the white Kookaburra to all corners of Perth Stadium with well-executed lap shots and powerful lofted drives.
It was chalk and cheese compared to the hapless West Indies batting performance witnessed in Queensland earlier this week.
The flat deck wasn’t doing Australia’s bowlers any favours either, with zero seam movement on offer in the first innings.
Highest opening partnerships in men’s T20Is on Australian soil
132 — Jos Buttler and Alex Hales vs AUS, 2022
122 — Aaron Finch and David Warner vs SL, 2019
109* — Aaron Finch and David Warner vs PAK, 2019
106 — Aaron Finch and Cameron White vs ENG, 2014
West Australian all-rounder Mitchell Marsh put down a touch chance off Nathan Ellis’ bowling in the sixth over, gifting Buttler an extra life on 30.
Buttler and Hales brought up their half-centuries in 25 and 29 balls respectively, but only accelerated after reaching the minor milestones.
Australian captain Aaron Finch, who earlier won the toss and elected to bowl first, briefly lost his temper with the umpires while appealing for caught behind.
“Could have been nice to know inside 15 f***ing seconds,” he vented after asking if the catch had carried.
Buttler eventually departed in the 12th over for 68 (32), with Ellis drawing a rare false stroke from the England skipper.
Superstar all-rounder Ben Stokes (9 off nine balls) and Hales (84 off 51) then departed in quick succession, both caught at the long-off boundary.
But the damage had already been done, with England mustering 6/208 to set a new record for the largest team total by a touring T20I side on Australian soil.
Ellis was a lone standout for the Australians in the field, finishing with 3/20 from his four overs.
The Tasmanian seamer leaked just one run from the penultimate over of England’s innings, sprinting back to his mark between deliveries to avoid the dreaded over-rate penalty.
Since making his international debut last year, Ellis has taken 15 T20I wickets at 8.53 with an impressive economy rate of 6.40.
“Nathan Ellis was outstanding on a really good batting surface,” Finch said after the defeat.
“He’s a fantastic bowler. He’s done it at domestic level, he’s done it every chance he’s had with Australia.”
Queensland leg-spinner Mitch Swepson, who missed a Sheffield Shield fixture for this match, conceded 31 runs from 12 balls, with his opening two deliveries punched over the boundary rope.
Largest totals by touring T20I teams on Australian soil
208/9 — England vs AUS, 2022
200/9 — England vs AUS, 2014
200/3 — India vs AUS, 2016
195/4 — India vs AUS, 2020
Australia’s run chase started in less than ideal circumstances, with young all-rounder Cameron Green edging behind off Reece Topley’s bowling for 1 in the second over.
But Warner (73 off 44 balls) and local hero Marsh (36 off 26) shifted momentum firmly back in Australia’s favour, cracking 62 runs from the Powerplay and combining for a 71-run partnership for the second wicket.
England leg-spinner Adil Rashid snared the crucial breakthrough in the ninth over, knocking over Marsh’s off-stump with a gorgeous wrong-un.
The Australian skipper departed shortly after, run out for 12 after scampering through for an ambitious double before Warner brought up his half-century in the 11th over.
West Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis then provided some crucial runs in the middle overs, smacking 35 off 15 deliveries to bring the Perth crowd to life.
But England speedster Mark Wood struck twice in one over to send a scare through the Australian camp, removing T20 globetrotter Tim David for a duck.
Highest men’s T20I batting average since the start of 2019
65.87 — David Warner (AUS)
58.81 — Mohammad Rizwan (PAK)
53.27 — Virat Kohli (IND)
50.87 — Devon Conway (NZ)
47.04 — Jos Buttler (ENG)
* Minimum 20 innings
Warner’s masterclass ended in the 17th over, cutting a short delivery from Wood directly towards Hales on the point boundary.
It ultimately went down to the final over, with the hosts needing 16 runs from six deliveries to pull off an unlikely victory, but England seamer Sam Curran held his nerve to secure the win.
The second T20 between Australia and England gets underway at Canberra’s Manuka Oval on Wednesday evening, with the first ball scheduled for 7.10pm AEDT.