Australia have salvaged the No. 1 world ranking after escaping with a five-wicket win in the third and final game of their Twenty20 series against England.
Aaron Finch’s team still had plenty to play for in Southampton, despite No.2 ranked England entering the clash with an unassailable 2-0 series lead.
There were some tense moments in Australia’s chase, including a mid-innings collapse of 4-30, but allrounders Mitch Marsh and Ashton Agar steadied to pass England’s total of 6-145 with three balls to spare.
Marsh’s unbeaten 39 helped Australia avoid a dramatic repeat of their Game 1 meltdown, when they lost by two runs after being in total control.
Australia survived Adil Rashid’s game-changing spell of 3-23, with the legspinner taking the key scalps of Finch (39), powerhitter Glenn Maxwell and master bastman Steve Smith.
But Australia, who rested star opener David Warner and fast bowler Pat Cummins, were far more comfortable batting under lights against England’s quicks
Matthew Wade and Finch took 16 runs from the opening over, which ended when the former smashed a mammoth 91m six to the leg-side off speedster Jofra Archer.
England’s top-order was far less threatening without explosive opener Jos Buttler, who sat out the match to be with his family after blasting an unbeaten matchwinning 77 in Game 2.
They batted with nowhere near the intensity that saw them wrap up the series on Sunday, struggling to the lowest-total in the three games.
After being sent into bat by Finch, England were best served by Jonny Bairstow’s gritty 55.
Buttler’s replacement at the top of the order, Tom Banton, was knocked over for two by Josh Hazlewood, who came into the Australian team for Cummins.
Bairstow and the prolific Dawid Malan steadied with a 49-run second-wicket partnership before legspinner Adam Zampa (2-34) dismissed the latter.
There was no Eoin Morgan in the middle order, with the England skipper not recovering from a finger injury sustained in the second T20.
Moeen Ali grafted 23 from 21 balls filling in for Morgan as captain.
Australia and England will switch to the 50-over format on Friday when they start a three-game ODI series at Old Trafford in Manchester.