Nerveless Woakes seals record win
England 9 for 158 (Morgan 43, Watson 4-15) beat Australia 7 for 157 (Watson 59, Yardy 2-28) by one wicket
Chris Woakes showed nerves of steel on his international debut to seal England a thrilling one-wicket victory at Adelaide and a world-record eighth Twenty20 win on the trot. Woakes finished unbeaten on 19 from 15 balls as he struck the final ball over midwicket having lost Graeme Swann at the start of the last over with four needed.
Ajmal Shahzad faced two dot balls before scrambling to the non-striker's end then Woakes scythed Shane Watson, who produced an outstanding all-round display with 59 and four wickets, through backward point to level the scores and ensure, at worst, England couldn't lose. They really shouldn't have pushed it so close having always been in control of the asking rate, but it's a credit to their belief that they could still pull through for victory despite a late clatter of wickets.
Watson will feel the defeat particularly acutely having almost pulled the match back for Australia. Eoin Morgan, in his first major innings since September, had eased 43 off 33 balls when he drove to cover and Michael Yardy fell first ball as he failed to get his bat out of the line of a short ball. But Woakes, a replacement for Stuart Broad in the England squad, showed why he was sent in ahead of Swann when he pulled Shaun Tait for a mighty six and was there to see his side home.
Australia were still some way short of the standards they set themselves having lost momentum with the bat after a fine start, the combined eight overs of Tait and Brett Lee went for 81, and their fielding display included a number of errors. They should have struck first ball of the innings but Steve O'Keefe dropped a regulation chance at square leg as Ian Bell went to pull Tait. Bell responded with three boundaries, including an effortless back-foot drive which oozed the class he has shown all tour.
England clearly weren't going to hold back in the first six overs. It was thrilling cricket to watch as the sides traded boundaries and wickets. Steven Davies drove his second ball to cover to give Brett Lee a wicket on his international return then Bell was given a second life, again off Tait, when David Warner dropped a tough chance at backward point.
Bell, playing his first Twenty20 international since 2008, unleashed an uppercut over third man of which Virender Sehwag would have been proud and Kevin Pietersen didn't want to be left behind as he joined in the boundary hunt. Australia continued to lapse in the field as O'Keefe let one through his legs at deep square-leg with England scoring at more than 10-an-over.
The batsmen didn't want to rein themselves in, however, even though the asking-rate was plummeting, and Bell drove Mitchell Johnson's third ball to cover. O'Keefe, meanwhile, must have feared how his evening would develop when Pietersen hit his first two balls for four and six but the left-arm spinner struck back when Pietersen failed to clear a leaping David Hussey at mid-off. It was a needless shot in terms of the run-rate, but England's tactic - which has reaped rich rewards - has been to go hard regardless in the first six overs.
The situation was made for steady accumulation and for a period Morgan and Paul Collingwood calmly ticked off the runs. It was hard to tell which batsman had barely played an innings since the end of the English season. Morgan pulled Lee for six then placed him perfectly over mid-off, but kept losing partners when Collingwood top-edged a sweep and Luke Wright walked across his stumps. And for once, Morgan couldn't finish the game himself.
Australia had threatened a far greater total than 157 when Watson was cutting loose to take Swann's first over for 26 on the way to a 27-ball half-century. He added 83 for the first wicket with Warner, but when the pair were separated the innings struggled to regain momentum and Australia failed to double their score.
Watson struck one boundary off Bresnan so hard that his bat broke, but the real damage came against the spinners. Yardy's opening over cost nine before Watson took Swann's first three deliveries over midwicket for increasingly large sixes and he added another boundary to reach fifty. Yardy, though, is a canny operator and fired one past Watson's attempted cut to give England a much-needed boost and he later had Warner taken at deep midwicket.
Despite Watson's departure Swann was whipped out of the attack but when he returned he produced a tight three overs which only went for 14. Hussey struggled to find his usual striking range, and though he eventually pulled Bresnan over midwicket for six. he then missed a perfect yorker next ball. England's bowlers were superb in the closing overs and the final result once again showed how the smallest of margins can make the difference in Twenty20 cricket.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo