MELBOURNE // Australia ended England's stunning run of Twenty20 victories by claiming a four-run win at the MCG today to square the two-match series 1-1.
Chasing 148 to win a ninth successive T20 match, England started its reply well by racing to 60 without loss off 43 balls but was restricted by some tight bowling thereafter to 143 for six.
Australia paceman Mitchell Johnson had figures of 3-29, including the key wickets of England topscorer Ian Bell (39), Kevin Pietersen (1) and Eoin Morgan (14), and Shane Watson claimed 2-17.
England needed 18 off the last over, bowled by Brett Lee, and Chris Woakes smashed a huge six off the fourth ball to leave the world T20 champions requiring seven from the final two deliveries.
Lee kept his composure when it mattered, however, as Australia earned their first victory in six T20s.
"It was definitely a gettable chase. It could have been better today but we've had a great run of things and it doesn't always go according to plan," the England captain Paul Collingwood said.
Australia's middle-order batsman Aaron Finch helped to give Australia, which won the toss, a competitive total to defend by crashing an unbeaten 53 off 33 balls to guide his team to 147 for seven.
England spinner Graeme Swann and Michael Yardy both had 2-19 to slow Australia down after a rapid start but the visitors' batsmen could not finish the job like they had done in the first match in Adelaide on Wednesday.
"It was a good, all-round effort," Australia's captain Cameron White said. "I thought we were a fraction short but I knew it was a score we could win with if we could bowl and field a little better than the other night."
Johnson was Australia's most incisive bowler, picking up vital wickets at important times.
He ended the opening partnership between Bell and Steven Davies (29) when the former played on to his own stumps and then had Pietersen caught by White three balls later, leaving England on 62 for two.
After Collingwood went for 6, Davies wafted Watson to David Warner at short mid-on to leave limited-overs specialists Morgan and Luke Wright in the middle.
Wright fell to Tait for 18 and Morgan, so often England's saviour in the closing stages of innings, holed out to Finch in the deep when attempting a huge pull for six. The same shot at any other ground in world cricket would have cleared the rope but the vast outfield at the MCG foiled the Irishman, leaving England needing 35 off 16 balls.
Tim Bresnan (1) and Woakes, England's match-winner at Adelaide on the final ball, were unable to revive England's hopes.
"I thought we were in a pretty good position after six overs but the next 10 overs we got a lot of dot balls," Collingwood said.
"We couldn't quite manage to get the boundaries when we were going for big shots. It was difficult to get a hold of the ball with the big boundaries."
Finch earlier plundered his half-century in just 34 minutes at the crease in only his second T20 international.
Openers Warner (30) and Watson (17) gave Australia a solid start, putting on 37 in four overs before the latter holed out to Morgan off Woakes.
The introduction of Swann and Yardy slowed the run-rate. After Tim Paine departed for 21 off Swann, Yardy had Warner caught by Pietersen in the deep with the score at 72-3 in the 10th over.
White (0) and David Hussey (8) then fell cheaply to leave Australia on 80-5 but Finch rescued the innings, with England's spinners having completed their allotted overs.
The right-handed Victoria batsman put on a 51-run partnership with Steve Smith in 6.5 overs to give the hosts a fighting chance.
The teams will now meet in a seven-match one-day series, starting on Sunday. England won the Test series 3-1.
"The one-day format is very different from 20 overs but it's a bit of momentum and hopefully we can continue in that form," Cameron said.