Australia snatch T20 defeat from the jaws of victory

Australia snatch T20 defeat from the jaws of victory

A sloppy collapse of 4-9 has consigned Australia to a two-run defeat in their Twenty20 opener against England in Southampton.

David Warner and Aaron Finch shook off six months of rust in style, sharing a 98-run opening stand to put their team in the box seat to haul in a target of 163 against a match-hardened opposition.

Australia, playing their first match since March, were sitting pretty at 1-124 after 14 overs but staggeringly fell short at 6-160.

Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Warner and Alex Carey all departed in quick – and for the most part needless – fashion to turn the game on its head and give England a sniff.

Marcus Stoinis and Ashton Agar looked to steady and ensure their side weren’t embarrassed, but the required run rate ballooned and the latter was run out when he failed to dive at the end of the penultimate over.

Stoinis required 15 runs off the final over, delivered by Tom Curran, to win.

The hulking all-rounder, representing Australia for the first time since last year’s ODI World Cup, swung and missed then struck a powerful six to make the victory equation nine runs from four balls.

Curran held his nerve as Australia’s shell-shocked coach Justin Langer pondered how his team snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

Warner helped himself to 58 runs from 47 balls, while Finch scored 46 off 32 deliveries before Australia relinquished control of the contest.

Smith holed out to Jonny Bairstow in the deep during Adil Rashid’s final over, igniting a slump in which Maxwell lasted two deliveries.

Glenn Maxwell.

Maxwell did return with a bang, albeit with ball rather than bat to help restrict England to 7-162.

The 31-year-old snagged the key scalps of captain Eoin Morgan and Moeen Ali, logging tidy figures of 2-14 from three overs during his first international game in almost a year.

Maxwell underwent elbow surgery in February, while he took a mental-health break from the sport last October.

The Victorian, who spent most of his winter in lockdown as the COVID-19 outbreak brought Melbourne to a halt, formed part of a potent attack but will rue the shot he played while falling victim to Rashid’s final delivery of the game.