England crushed in T20 defeat

England's Sam Billings sweeps the ball against Australia
England's Sam Billings sweeps the ball against Australia
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England were outclassed by Australia for the second time in a week to leave their hopes of reaching the final of the Trans-Tasman Series in the balance.

The manner of their seven-wicket defeat at the MCG was painfully familiar for anyone who saw their slump in Hobart - a fragile first-innings total reeled in with ease by a vibrant Australian XI crammed with talent from the Big Bash.

The only real difference was of scale, England’s 137 for seven falling 18 runs short of their previous losing tally and the haste with which it was knocked off, with 33 balls unused here.

Victory makes it three in three for Australia, who are assured of a place in the Auckland showpiece later this month, leaving England to scrap it out with New Zealand for the remaining berth.

England’s day began with captain Eoin Morgan failing a fitness test, the result of a groin injury sustained on the eve of the match.

Also out was Mark Wood, the paceman sacrificed for second spinner Liam Dawson.

David Warner sent the tourists in after winning the toss, just as he did in a winning cause in Hobart, and duly brushed aside England’s top three inside four overs.

Alex Hales was first man down, victim of a fine over-the-shoulder catch from Aaron Finch that never looked safe until it finally settled at the second attempt.

Jason Roy, revisiting the scene of last month’s record-breaking one-day 180, made 172 fewer on this occasion and nicked Billy Stanlake gently to Alex Carey.

By the time Dawid Malan took on Warner’s arm in pursuit of a risky single - a battle he emphatically lost - hope was already beginning to ebb away.

Jos Buttler, skipper in Morgan’s stead, put on 36 with James Vince and 43 with Sam Billings but never came close to his domineering best despite top-scoring with 46.

Aside from some woeful running with Vince - only wayward throwing stopped denied Australia a second run out - Buttler perhaps erred too much towards preservation.

With each member of a five-man attack performing their role to a tee, the scoreboard did not tick past 100 until the second ball of the 17th over.

Marcus Stoinis was the most economical bowler, with just 18 off his allocation, and Kane Richardson finished with three wickets including Buttler from the final ball of the innings.

But it was Andrew Tye who provided the sweetest dismissal, bamboozling Vince out the back of the hand and pegging back off stump.

Warner must have eyed the modest target as a chance to play his way into form but his post-Ashes travails against the white ball continued.

For the second time in a row David Willey dismissed him in the first over, a hint of swing proving just enough to take the edge before nestling in Buttler’s gloves.

Chris Lynn moved decisively to dampen any enthusiasm in the field, crashing 18 runs off his first six deliveries - with Tom Curran bearing the brunt.

Lynn’s blitz did not last, Chris Jordan cramping him on the pull in the sixth over, but the balance of power was fixed.

Spin proved no help once D’Arcy Short and Glenn Maxwell got going, Dawson shipping 19 from the 10th over and Adil Rashid coughing up 20 from the other end as hope evaporated.

Maxwell top-edged Jordan to depart for 39 in 26 balls but Short lingered long enough to watch Aaron Finch end things in a rush with successive sixes off Willey.