Southampton: Australia gained a consolation victory in the final match of its Twenty20 series against England to regain top spot in the format's world rankings at the expense of its fierce rival.
Australia chased down its target of 146 with three balls to spare for a five-wicket victory at the empty Rose Bowl, with Mitch Marsh hitting the winning run to finish unbeaten on 39. England won the series 2-1, but needed to sweep it to remain top of the T20 rankings after climbing into first place because of its win in the second match on Sunday.
England opener Jonny Bairstow overcame a slow start to smash a 44-ball 55 containing three fours and three sixes and lead the team to 145-6. That was the lowest score of the series so far, with paceman Mitchell Starc very economical by conceding just 20 runs off his four overs. Joe Denly's late-innings 29 off 19 balls gave England's total some respectability, but Australia went at 10 runs an over off its first seven and was seemingly easing to the win.
However, the Australians slumped from 70-1 to 100-5 in six overs in its latest middle-order collapse, with Adil Rashid's legspin accounting for the wickets of dangermen Aaron Finch (39), Glenn Maxwell (6) and Steve Smith (3). Marsh and Ashton Agar (16) put on a stand of 46 to see Australia home.
"We know where we messed up in the first game but tonight we were really good again for the majority of the game," Finch said. "It was nice Mitch and Ashton got us over the line this time. There are always areas for improvement, especially in those middle overs against the spinners." England was missing star batsman Jos Buttler and regular captain Eoin Morgan, while Australia rested paceman Pat Cummins and opener David Warner. They should all return for the three-match ODI series between the series starting Friday.