Marsh stars as Australia regain top spot in T20 rankings from England
Mitchell Marsh marked his return to the world stage by leading Australia to a five-wicket consolation win over England at Southampton on Tuesday as they regained top spot in the global Twenty20 rankings from their arch-rivals.
Australia were cruising to a modest target of 146 at 70-1 even though they had rested dynamic opener David Warner in one of three changes to their side.
But they lost three wickets for 17 runs to be 87-4 before Marsh (39 not out) and Ashton Agar (16 not out) saw Australia to victory with three balls to spare.
"Six months is a long time without cricket so it's great to get the opportunity today," player-of-the-match Marsh told Sky Sports. "It's nice to finish off the series and nice to contribute. I would've liked my first game back to be a bit easier than that... I certainly looked up to make sure (Adil) Rashid had bowled out and I do like pace on the ball."
England, however, still won the three-match series 2-1.
‘Got us over the line'
"The first couple of games, we played such good cricket for a lot of it and didn't finish it off," Australia captain Aaron Finch told Sky Sports. "But tonight Mitch and Ash got us over the line."
Australia's slump started when Marcus Stoinis holed out off Tom Curran before dangerman Glenn Maxwell fell for six when he reverse-swept leg-spinner Rashid to short third man.
Rashid, who should have dismissed Finch for 27 only for wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow to drop a skyed chance, then bowled the Australia captain for 39 with a superb googly.
And with the last ball of his spell, Rashid caught and bowled star batsman Steve Smith to finish with excellent figures of 3-21 from his four overs.
Australia were now 100-5, needing 46 more to win off the last seven overs. But the recalled Marsh, in his first competitive match for Australia since a one-day international in March, settled their nerves with a six and a four in a 16th over from fast bowler Mark Wood that cost 14 runs.
When Agar drove Curran down the ground for four, Australia needed just one off the last over, bowled by Chris Jordan.
Marsh, however, could not score off the first two balls. But the third saw him run the decisive single, although he would have been out if Joe Denly had hit the stumps with his throw from mid-off.
Earlier, Mitchell Starc led a disciplined bowling display as Australia held a revamped England to 145-6. Fast bowler Starc took 1-20, with leg-spinner Adam Zampa returning fine figures of 2-34.
Jonny Bairstow, with 55, was the only England batsman to pass 30. But England were without captain Eoin Morgan (dislocated finger) and fellow star batsman Jos Buttler, absent for personal reasons after making a match-winning 77 not out in a six-wicket victory on Sunday.
They were also missing opener Jason Roy (side injury) and star all-rounder Ben Stokes, with his ill father in New Zealand, for the whole of this series. But stand-in skipper Moeen Ali was grateful to have captained his country for the first time.
"It was a very proud moment and an amazing experience, sadly we didn't win but I thought we showed good fight in the end," he said. "Generally in the field we weren't great and we didn't back the bowlers up as we would have liked."
Bairstow, who struggled early on, struck left-arm spinner Ashton Agar and Zampa for two huge sixes.
He completed a 41-ball fifty with a superb straight six off Zampa. However, Bairstow was out soon afterwards when caught and bowled after mistiming a pull off Agar.
England, the 50-over world champions, and Australia now head north to Manchester for a three-match one-day international series starting on Friday.
It will be the first time they have played an ODI since England beat Australia in the semi-finals of last year's World Cup.