Bowled Over – England Level Series – By Luqman Liaqat

England levelled the two-match NatWest Twenty20 series with a 27-run win over Australia at Durham.

Alex Hales smashed 94 off 61 balls as the three lions put 195-5 on the board and in reply, the Aussies fell short reaching 168-9 in their allocated 20 overs.

Hales had previously reached a top score of 99 against the West Indies in a T20 match and he fell short of a century once again leaving England without a ton-maker in the shortest format of the game.

Skipper Stuart Broad lost the toss but opening pair Michael Lumb and Hales gave the hosts a fast start to the innings as they brought up the hundred after only 11 overs giving England a record first wicket stand.

Leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed turned the game slightly in Australia’s favour as he picked up Lumb (43) who edged behind to wicket-keeper Mathew Wade.

Luke Wright came and went straight after Glenn Maxwell hitting him for a huge six following up with a pair of fours. Wright scored 30 in just 18 balls before Mitchell Johnson took an athletic catch at mid-off leaving England in a strong position at 157-2 as they pushed towards the 200 mark.

Hales hit 11 fours and 2 sixes including one empty sledge that flew over the ropes, his innings closed on 94 when he was looking for glory with a big shot but he picked out David Warner at the long-off boundary giving James Faulkner (2-37) a second wicket.

Surprisingly, Ahmed (3-25) bowled the final over but he fooled Jos Buttler with a straight one first ball and Eoin Morgan (20) after launching a six slapped the ball straight to a fielder giving the Pakistan-born leg-spinner impressive figures from his four overs.

In reply, Australia had a terrible start, the hero from two days ago Aaron Finch pulled a short ball straight to Wright in only the second over giving Broad the wicket.

Shane Watson was next to go back to the pavilion after misjudging a run with Warner he was run out and the tourists were now 15-2 as early as the third over.

The third wicket partnership of 58 was all about Warner as he raced to 47, hitting Danny Briggs and Joe Root for two mighty blows. Shaun Marsh was dismissed for only 13 as Root nicked one through his defence.

Warner struck 53 off 42 balls before slicing Jade Dernbach (3-23) to Hales at the boundary, leaving Australia 111-4 and falling behind the required run-rate.

The wickets kept falling after that point, Maxwell scored 19 from one Ravi Bopara over including two maximums before dispatching Dernbach to Lumb for 27.

Morgan held a stunning diving catch to capture Faulkner’s wicket to all-but seal victory, debutant Nathan-Coulter Nile smashed Steve Finn for two sixes in the penultimate over before spinner Briggs (2-25) dismissed him in the 20th over as Australia finished well short of the set target at 168-9.

After a drawn T20 series, England now play Ireland in a one-off ODI on Tuesday as Australia face Scotland on the same day before the two rivals begin the 5-match ODI series on Friday at Headingley.

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