Australia 7 for 147 (Finch 53*) beat England 6 for 143 (Bell 39, Johnson 3-29) by 4 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
One swallow doesn't make a summer, but one Finch made Australia's day at the MCG, where the hosts ended England's eight-match winning streak in Twenty20 games. In his second game for his country, the hometown batsman Aaron Finch muscled a promising unbeaten half-century that pushed the total to 7 for 147, and the seamers held their nerve to give Cameron White his first victory as Australia's captain.
In another tense finale after the final-ball thriller in Adelaide, England needed 13 off the last three deliveries, and Chris Woakes slammed Brett Lee over long-on for a crowd-silencing six that made the equation seven from two balls. But Woakes and Tim Bresnan couldn't repeat the dose against the pace of Lee, who bowled short at the end, and Australia's four-run win was confirmed with a pair of singles.
England's chase had started well, as Ian Bell cut and drove a pair of sizzling boundaries through point off Shaun Tait's first over, and he and Steven Davies reached 0 for 60 in the eighth over. England's Twenty20 record looked certain to extend to nine consecutive wins, but things became much tighter when Bell was yorked on 39 by Mitchell Johnson, who finished up with 3 for 29.
Kevin Pietersen fell in the same over as Bell, having driven Johnson to White at short cover, and it was game on. The loss of Paul Collingwood, who scooped Shane Watson to mid-off trying to lift his rate, added to England's problems, and he was gone for 6 from 10 balls. As he was in Adelaide, Watson was Australia's best bowler, keeping things tight while also collecting wickets, and he ended up with 2 for 17 from four overs.
A couple of overs later, Watson added Davies, who scored 29 from 26 balls, and was caught by David Warner at mid-on. Luke Wright (18) was sharply taken at mid-off by Steven Smith off Johnson and when Morgan, on 14, was caught on the boundary by Finch off Shaun Tait, it left the equation firmly in Australia's favour. Bresnan and Woakes were left needing 29 from the final two overs, and just fell short.
It was a fine result for Australia, after they stumbled to 5 for 80 from 12 overs. England's spinners strangled the runs following a brisk start from Watson and Warner, and it took the young Finch to set the innings in flight once again. Graeme Swann collected 2 for 19 from his four overs and Michael Yardy finished with exactly the same figures, and the spin duo was so successful that Paul Collingwood turned to Kevin Pietersen's offbreaks once Swann had bowled out.
Pietersen didn't have quite the same success, and was launched down the ground for six by Finch, who top scored with 53 not out from 33 balls. Finch and Steven Smith put on 51 for the sixth wicket, including several crowd-pleasing shots from Finch, notably an audacious scoop over his shoulder for four off Ajmal Shahzad.
A short but muscular batsman whose style resembles that of his fellow Victorian Brad Hodge, Finch also showed his power when he slapped a slower ball from Shahzad over midwicket for six just after Shahzad had Smith caught at cover for 13. They had come together with the score at 5 for 80, when a horribly scratchy David Hussey was put out of his misery for 8 from 16 deliveries when he pulled Yardy to deep midwicket.
Such was Hussey's struggle to time the ball against the spinners that even his hometown crowd was collectively groaning at every dot ball. Tim Paine scored much faster and made 21 from 12 balls, including a mistimed six to get off the mark when he drove Woakes down the ground to long-on, and Watson (17) had also launched two sixes off Shahzad and Woakes, while Warner worked his way to 30.
Perhaps the strong start was spurred by a bout of patriotism, after the pre-match build-up included the crowd supposedly setting a new world record for the most people simultaneously doing the chicken dance. The idea was sponsored by a certain company for whom the collective term for chickens is a bucket, and it was about as credible as the honorary colonelship given to Harland Sanders by Kentucky governor Ruby Laffoon in 1935.
A much more laudable effort was to come from the Australians on the field.