Copy of 240017-01-02-1665582209300
England players celebrate their victory in the second match of the Twenty20 series against Australia at Manuka Oval in Canberra. Image Credit: AFP

Canberra: Dawid Malan posted 82 to lead the batting and Sam Curran snared three wickets to help England clinch a series victory over Australia with an eight-run win today that will be a setback for the hosts ahead of their title defense at the Twenty20 World Cup.

Malan plundered seven boundaries and four sixes in his 49-ball innings and shared a 92-run fifth -wicket stand with Moeen Ali that propelled England from a precious 54-4 in the 9th over to a total of 178-7 after being sent in to bat.

Curran took some big wickets when Glenn Maxwell (8) pulled a bouncer to Alex Hales at mid-wicket in the 8th over and Marcus Stoinis (22) picked out Harry Brook at deep mid-wicket in the 12th. He returned to end Australia’s hopes by taking out the leg stump of Tim David (40 of 23 balls) with a perfect yorker in the 18th. The Australians finished on 170-6.

Five changes

England won the series-opening match in Perth last Sunday by eight runs but was facing a full-strength bowling attack in Canberra, with Australia making five changes for Game 2.

Malan went in at the start of the third over after skipper Jos Buttler was out for 17, and he dug in while Hales (4), Ben Stokes (7) and Harry Brook (1) all fell cheaply.

England’s predicament could have got a lot worse on the last ball of the 9th over when Ali was on one and slashed Stoinis to backward point, where Maxwell put down a regulation chance.

It was a costly drop for the hosts, who could have had England 58-5 but instead had to watch as Ali regathered his composure and accelerated his scoring to post 44 from 27 deliveries.

Australia captain Aaron Finch said the difference was the fielding, with his lineup putting down four chances and England holding every catch.

“We were really poor in the field, especially when we had them four (wickets) down inside the first 10 overs,” he said. “Pretty sloppy.”

Malan, playing his 50th T20 international, raised his 50 from 31 balls and kept the pressure on the Australian attack with controlled aggression and some hefty hitting.

He had a reprieve on 54 when he skied one down the ground off Mitchell Starc and David was not only unable to catch the ball, but promoted it over the boundary for six.

Sharp return

“Over the moon,” Malan said of his player-of-the-match performance. “Thankfully got away with a little bit here and there.”

Ali also survived a sharp return chance to spinner Adam Zampa, an inside edge of Josh Hazlewood that narrowly missed his stumps before racing to the boundary and another on the rope when David Warner mis-timed his leap and fell awkwardly onto his back. He was finally out slicing a slower ball from Zampa to long-off in the 17th over.

Australia’s tall quicks Hazlewood and Starc returned after missing the game in Perth but between them conceded 81 runs for one wicket - Starc bowling Curran (8) in the penultimate over.

Medium pacer Stoinis produced Australia’s best bowling figures of 3-34, including the wicket of Malan with three balls left in the innings.

“Really satisfying win after losing the toss and setting a target,” Buttler said. “Malan played really well to anchor that innings.”

He also praised Curran’s contribution, saying “he’s one of those guys who enjoys those tough overs ... wants to be in the thick of things.”

“We had to get Tim David out to win the game. We knew we needed to find a way to get him out to win the game.”

Top order

Australia lost openers Finch (13) and Warner to be in trouble at 22-2, leaving Mitch Marsh to anchor the top order with 45 from 29 balls.

Curran picked off Maxwell and Stoinis before taking the vital catch when Marsh flicked Ben Stokes’ first ball of the 15th over to deep square leg and Australia slipped to 114-5.

David was threatening to guide Australia to an unlikely win before Curran’s timely wicket gave England the late momentum.

The teams will meet again in Canberra on Friday before a final week of preparation for the T20 World Cup.