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Billings takes catch for England in NatWest IT20 win v Australia

Monday 31st August 2015

Sam Billings took a comfortable catch to dismiss Australia skipper Steve Smith before a steely final over from Ben Stokes ensured England claimed NatWest Twenty20 bragging rights at Cardiff.

Billings, playing again as a specialist batsman, scored two runs late in England's total

England's five-run victory would not have been possible without some wonderful ball-striking from captain Eoin Morgan and Moeen, who put on 135 in just 75 balls, but Stokes shone when the pressure was at its most intense.

Defending 182 for five, he was thrown the ball with 12 runs needed and conceded only half that number, making two run outs and taking a wicket as he held his nerve emphatically.

Australia finished in near disarray as they failed to match the Durham all-rounder's coolness at the climax, closing on 177 for eight.

It would surely have been a different ending had skipper Steve Smith seen things through to the end but he departed in the penultimate over, David Willey enhancing his golden arm status with the big wicket.

Smith finished with 90, the top score in a match that also saw freewheeling knocks of 74 from Morgan and 72no from Moeen.

Having been inserted England's innings was effectively a two-hander from from the pair.

An indeterminate start came to a swift end when Pat Cummins entered the fray, Alex Hales losing his off stump to a 93mph full toss and Jason Roy offering mid-off a simple catch.

Moeen and Morgan were a a tougher nut to crack. Moeen refused to allow Mitchell Marsh or debutant Marcus Stoinis to settle, reeling off a series of sweetly-hit boundaries.

Morgan joined in the fun in the 11th over, crashing Marsh out of the ground with a muscular straight hit.

Having scored 27 from two from the six-over powerplay, England managed 67 without loss from the next six.

Morgan produced a staggering shot when Shane Watson came on, a one-legged, cross-bat six that cleared the sightscreen.

Moeen was first to pass 50, in 31 balls, as he hammered Cameron Boyce for two sixes and a four,

Boyce has clocked up a 20,000 mile round trip for this game and shipped 19 runs from his solitary over.

Watson offered the leg-spinner a small consolation by conceding even more from his next visit, Morgan hitting three sweet sixes to bring up his own half-century.

Even the returning Cummins was not spared by the Dubliner, who cleared the ropes with another pair of big hits to close out the 16th over.

He fell attempting to strike eighth maximum, just a yard short as Nathan Coulter-Nile had him caught at long-on, and the England innings never quite regained momentum.

Willey stymied the Australian chase with the final ball of the opening over, David Warner caught at third man off a leading edge.

Fellow opener Watson departed close behind, bowled by Steven Finn having inexplicably failed to prevent a ricochet spinning back into his stumps.

Being unable to make contact with his pads was a cruel twist for Watson, whose Test career likely ended with two lbws at this ground.

Smith and Glenn Maxwell (44) launched the counter-attack, the latter sending three of his first seven balls to the ropes.

Smith was also in good touch, running busily before hitting the first six of the innings back over Finn's head.

England debutant Reece Topley twice bested Maxwell only to concede, two fours, one an inch over mid-on the other a flashy inside edge.

The mid-point of the chase saw Australia at 86 for two and Adil Rashid was unable to apply the brakes.

His second and third overs cost a combined 27, including a six for each batsmen and the boundary that took Smith to 50.

Instead, it was Moeen's off-spin that did the trick, though Maxwell's departure had as much to do with Stokes' superb running catch.

That left Smith, fresh from heaving Finn into the stands, to see it through.

Australia needed 49 from five overs and 20 from two as Smith's ruthless pursuit continued with deft touches and a fourth powerful six off Willey.

But the Northants man struck gold with nine balls remaining, Smith holing out to Kent's Billings.

Australia needed a gettable dozen but watched aghast as Stokes ran out Matthew Wade and Pat Cummins as well as having Nathan Coulter-Nile caught.