ADIL RASHID dismissed three of Australia’s big guns but it wasn’t sufficient to prevent England sliding to defeat.
Wrist-spinner Rashid mesmerised Glenn Maxwell, Aaron Finch and Steve Smith and finished with figures of 4-0-21-3 in the final T20 match.
Maxwell was caught attempting a reverse sweep, captain Finch was bowled by a brilliant googly and Smith was caught and bowled.
The flurry of wickets helped reduce the Aussies from 70-1 to 100-5 and in danger of repeating their calamitous collapse in the first game.
But Mitch Marsh, with some help from Ashton Agar, guided the Aussies to a five-wicket win with three balls to spare.
It meant England failed to end the series as the No.1 ranked T20 team in the world to go with their top place in the 50-over table. They won 2-1 but needed a 3-0 whitewash to leapfrog the Aussies.
In truth, England’s below-strength team produced a below-par performance and suffered the consequences.
Without Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan – their best batsman and inspirational captain – England lacked firepower with the bat.
WEAK BATTING LINE-UP
Buttler, who was 30 yesterday, asked for the match off to see his family for the first time in eleven weeks while Morgan was still feeling the finger he dislocated in Sunday’s match.
With Jason Roy injured and Ben Stokes visiting his dad in New Zealand, England fielded one of their weaker batting line-ups for many years.
And, sure enough, they struggled to just 145-6 in 20 overs on a slow, tired pitch being used for the third straight game in this series.
England’s batting was disappointing, their fielding poor with Jonny Bairstow dropping a skier and the likes of Tom Banton and Joe Denly failing to stop balls that went to the boundary.
And, apart from Rashid, the bowling was less threatening than usual with Archer and Wood conceding 70 between them from seven overs.
Archer’s opening over went for 15 runs, which included a monstrous six over backward square leg by leftie opener Matthew Wade, playing instead of the resting David Warner.
Morgan’s absence meant Moeen Ali captained England in an international for the first time – he has been in charge in warm-up games on tour.
He became the first player of Asian heritage to lead England since Nasser Hussain in 2003.
With Buttler away, Tom Banton was elevated back to the opener’s berth he filled in the T20 matches against Pakistan a couple of weeks ago.
But he was soon caught behind, giving Josh Hazlewood his first wicket for his country in T20 cricket since 2016. Hazlewood is one of the world’s best Test bowlers but hadn’t played in the shortest format for four years.
Bairstow initially struggled to find his timing but he gradually located the middle of the bat and hoisted three sixes over long on.
But, on 55, he top-edged a long hop and was caught by bowler Ashton Agar on the run towards mid-wicket. Bairstow’s departure killed England’s hopes of a challenging total.
The in-form Dawid Malan was caught near the boundary and, although Moeen and Joe Denly also reached 20, England fell short of the 160 they probably needed.
The teams begin a three-match 50-over series at Old Trafford on Friday.