ENGLAND suffered their first defeat to Australia this summer after opener Aaron Finch blasted the highest-ever international score in the shortest format.
Finch produced one of the most punishing performances seen on the international stage as he clubbed 14 sixes and 11 fours in an innings of 156 from 63 balls.
The right-hander’s record-breaking knock, on a night when a Twenty20-best 457 runs were scored, overshadowed Australia’s 248 for six – the second-highest Twenty20 score.
The size of the task swamped England’s batsmen – who still managed their own second-highest score of 209 for six – on the back of Joe Root’s unbeaten 90.
But a 39-run defeat, in the first of two NatWest Twenty20 internationals, meant Australia also ended their 200-day wait for a competitive international win.
The Australians had not tasted success in any format on this tour, or the previous whitewash trip to India, and England captain Stuart Broad had pledged to keep the foot on the beleaguered tourists. His decision to send Australia in to bat after winning the toss was, however, quickly undermined.
Finch, who reached all his landmarks with sixes, served his intention by hitting his first ball from Steven Finn over the ropes.
While England did then remove David Warner cheaply, after his bat was unintentionally hurled from his grip as he skied Broad, from there Finch took centre-stage.
The 26-year-old reached his half-century with a straight six off Ravi Bopara and later top-edged Broad for six to bring up his ton from 47 balls.
Brendon McCullum’s previous Twenty20 record score of 123 was next in his sights – and duly beaten with a maximum over cover – before another heave made him the first man to 150.
Jade Dernbach, who returned impressive figures of three for 34 finally got Finch to play on in the 18th over.
The pressure told early on England as they slipped to 42 for four in reply. Michael Lumb and Alex Hales made a quickfire opening stand of 33 only to fall from consecutive balls, albeit at opposite ends. Lumb was trapped lbw by Mitchell Johnson before Hales edged behind off Josh Hazlewood. Luke Wright fell the same way and Eoin Morgan thrashed Johnson to cover point without scoring.
Root was then left with a bloodied mouth by an awkward Hazlewood delivery but he remained composed and brought up a half-century from 29 balls and continued until the end.
However that was lost in the glare of Finch’s fireworks which gave Australia a 1-0 lead ahead of tomorrow’’s final game at Chester-le-Street.