England captain Charlotte Edwards admitted Australia deserved to beat her side to retain the women's ICC World Twenty20 trophy.
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Number three Jess Cameron top-scored with 45 to help Australia pile up 142 for four after being put in at the Premadasa Stadium.
England's batsmen never quite managed the necessary impetus to get over the line, but would not give up and came mighty close in the end to regaining the title they won at Lord's in 2009, eventually losing by just four runs.
Edwards said: "Australia were better than us today. We were under par with the ball, and paid for it. The first six (overs) of their innings was probably the difference between the two teams.
"Our lack of discipline up front has really cost us. They didn't seem nervous in the dressing room. But there probably were nerves there."
Edwards' own dismissal was a key moment, but being caught in the deep is an occupational hazard of her attacking brief.
"My role at the top of the order is just to keep hitting boundaries. I'm there to do that, and not too much running around. It's worked for the last 18 months. But part and parcel of that is sometimes getting out."
Player of the tournament Edwards is consoled, to a degree, by the fact England and Australia put on a fine example of women's cricket at its best.
"We're obviously bitterly disappointed we're not lifting the trophy, but it was a great spectacle for the women's game," she said. "I'm very proud of that."
Australia captain Jodie Fields inevitably wore the broader smile.
She said: "England played a really good match, but we had the belief in our team. It was just an all-round performance; we always had the belief.
"Just to be standing here is awesome. All the hard work has been worth it."