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Hales falls short of century
Alex Hales fell agonisingly short of a record-breaking century as England posted 195 for five in the second NatWest Twenty20 international against Australia at Chester-le-Street.
Not for the first time in his career Hales fell just shy of becoming the first England batsman to score an international Twenty20 century.
The 24-year-old was bowled on 99 against the West Indies last summer and was six runs shy of a hundred here when he holed out in the deep off James Faulkner in the penultimate over.
Hales' 61-ball innings, which included 11 fours and two sixes, nonetheless set the platform for England to square the two-match series after Australia won Thursday's opener by 39 runs.
Only a pair of wickets in the final over from Australia leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed (three for 25) prevented the hosts surpassing 200 for the second consecutive game.
Hales and Michael Lumb (43) got off to a flying start as they combined for an England record opening stand of 111 against Australia.
Hales survived a loud shout for caught behind before he had scored, paceman Mitchell Johnson going up in unison with his keeper, although replays did not suggest any edge.
Hales got off the mark with back-to-back fours before belting Faulkner for a straight six as 61 was taken from the powerplay.
Lumb deposited Shane Watson over the same rope as England advanced at pace against Australia's pacemen.
Australia turned to Ahmed in the eighth over and while that slowed the rate only slightly, Hales milked the leg-spinner for a couple to bring up his sixth Twenty20 half-century from 34 balls.
The century opening stand arrived in a Johnson over that cost 16, before Ahmed grabbed his first international wicket.
After Lumb top-edged a sweep high into the air, which wicketkeeper Matt Wade held, Ahmed celebrated with a kiss to the heavens.
England, who named an unchanged team, kept operating at around 10 an over though as Glenn Maxwell's second over went for 18 - new man Luke Wright following a six with a pair of fours.
Wright contributed 30 from 17 balls before Johnson athletically caught him above his head at mid off as the stage looked set for Hales to bring up three figures.
But the Nottinghamshire opener picked out David Warner on the long-off rope to leave him shy of a deserved century.
Ahmed then surprisingly bowled the final over but fooled Jos Buttler first ball, before Eoin Morgan slapped him to a fielder in the deep to give the Pakistan-born leg-spinner impressive figures and England belief their slow men may prosper on this wicket.