England captain Eoin Morgan marked his return to cricket by top-scoring for his side in a five-run win over Australia in the lone Twenty20 international in Cardiff on Monday.
Morgan made 74 and shared a third-wicket stand of 135 in just 75 balls with fellow left-hander Moeen Ali (72 not out) in a total of 182 for five after England, sent into bat, had slumped to 18 for two.
Australia, however, were on course for victory while skipper Steven Smith was making a Twenty20 international best 90.
But they lost five wickets for 16 runs in 14 balls and finished on 177 for eight.
England all-rounder Ben Stokes, who held a brilliant catch in the deep to dismiss Glenn Maxwell, was entrusted with a last over where Australia needed just 12 more runs to win.
However, they lost three wickets, two to run outs, with Stokes also having Nathan Coulter-Nile out for a duck when Adil Rashid held a skyer at short third man.
Stokes conceded just six runs off the over, with Australia finishing on 177 for eight.
Morgan’s innings was a vindication of the month’s break he had from cricket after being rested by Middlesex — whose director of cricket, Angus Fraser, is also an England selector — following a poor run of domestic form.
“It was brilliant, a great game of cricket to win,” former Ireland international Morgan told Sky Sports afterwards.
“You can learn a lot from playing in close games against top opposition,” added Morgan also led England to a Twenty20 and one-day series win over New Zealand earlier this season.
“It was impressive the way Ben Stokes bowled that final over and delivered his skills after just finishing a five-game Test series,” added Morgan, who played no part in England’s 3-2 Ashes series win.
Smith added: “It was one of those games…We were hot and cold with the ball but credit to Eoin and Moeen.
“We couldn’t get another partnership going after me and Glenn and that was a big difference.”
Earlier, England lost openers Alex Hales (three) and Jason Roy (11) in four balls from pace-man Pat Cummins to stutter at 18 for two in four overs.
Morgan, however, struck a superb straight six off all-rounder Shaun Marsh that sent the ball soaring out of the ground and into the River Taff.
He also hammered Cummins for two sixes before he was well-caught on the long-on boundary by Shane Watson off pace-man Coulter-Nile.
Morgan faced 39 balls, hitting three fours and seven sixes.
Cummins, however, came back well to finish with two for 25.
Man-of-the-match Ali faced 46 balls and struck six fours and two sixes.
Australia, as happened to England, saw their openers fall cheaply, with David Warner out for four and Watson dismissed for eight.
Warner saw a miscued pull shot off David Willey fly straight to Finn at third man.
Watson’s woeful tour, which saw him dropped from the Test side after Australia’s defeat in the Ashes opener in Cardiff, continued when he played on to fast bowler Finn, the batsman missing an attempted kick at the ball before it trickled onto the stumps.
Smith and Maxwell (44) repaired the damage with a third-wicket stand of 112.
Maxwell though fell to off-spinner Ali’s first ball when a pull shot was brilliantly caught by a diving Stokes, running round at long-on.
Smith was in sight of a hundred when he pulled Willey to Roy at mid-wicket.
He faced 53 balls, hitting four sixes and seven fours.
It was Smith’s highest score at this level, comfortably surpassing his previous Twenty20 international best of 34 against Sri Lanka at Perth in 2010.
Australia were then 165 for five, needing 18 to win off nine balls — a target that proved beyond them.
England now face 50-over world champions Australia in a five-match one-day international series starting in Southampton on Thursday