Malan was shuffled down to number seven in the batting order in Sunday's series opener in Perth but returned to his usual position at first drop at the Manuka Oval, perhaps with a point to prove.
He did so after anchoring England's recovery from 54-4 to a total of 178-7 before Sam Curran collected 3-25 as the tourists claimed an eight-run win to go 2-0 ahead with one match to play.
This second T20 was delicately poised with Australia needing 34 off the last three overs and Tim David on 40 off 21 deliveries, but he departed two balls later after being bowled round his legs by Curran.
The boundaries were cut off in the 18th and 19th overs by Curran and Reece Topley as the equation came down to 22 off the last six balls, with the former ensuring there would be no dramatic finish.
Australia were back to full strength after resting a host of star names at the Optus Stadium but they suffered defeat by the same margin as at the weekend and may rue a substandard fielding display as Malan and Moeen Ali, who contributed 44 off 27 balls, were both given lives.
Malan and Moeen put on 92 from 52 balls after England's top order stumbled, with Ben Stokes dismissed for a second successive single-figure score although he underlined his all-round pedigree with the key wicket of Mitch Marsh, having earlier produced a sensational bit of fielding on the boundary rope.
England's openers put on 132 in 11.2 overs in Perth but here Pat Cummins drew a false shot from Jos Buttler, who had raced to 17 before toe-ending in the air with Adam Zampa taking a swirling chance.
The perception of Malan starting slowly might have led to his demotion last time out as England sought quick runs but, back in his normal habitat, he laced his third ball expertly through the covers.
Malan's fifth delivery was dispatched high over deep square-leg for six although Alex Hales and Harry Brook perished when they drove loosely at Marcus Stoinis, either side of Stokes being castled after missing a big heave on one knee off Zampa, who zipped one through a bit quicker.
Moeen was given a reprieve on one when Glenn Maxwell spilled a chest-high chance, and the all-rounder capitalised.
Having taken just seven off his first nine balls, he freed his arms off Cummins and Stoinis for four then lofted the latter into the stands for a meaty six.
Malan was effortlessly piercing the field but showed his range with a towering six off Zampa en route to a 31-ball fifty.
Both England batters took sixes off Mitchell Starc having been given let-offs - with Moeen's sliced drive bursting through the fingertips of David Warner, who went off for a concussion test after landing awkwardly, while David parried Malan, on 54, over the rope, perhaps unsighted by the floodlights.
Zampa put down a tough return catch off Moeen, whose luck ran out later in the over as David atoned for his earlier drop.
Malan had his fourth six after bludgeoning Starc but perished in the deep in the final over off Stoinis before Chris Jordan helped England's innings end with a flourish with a six off the last ball.
Warner was able to bat but made just four off 11 deliveries before skewing Topley, three balls after Aaron Finch, back opening following a middle-order stint, drove to mid-off off David Willey.
While Marsh settled quickly, Curran took out the inauspicious Maxwell and the dangerous Stoinis with the leg-side sweeper holding on on both occasions.
This came either side of a fantastic boundary save from Stokes, who pouched Marsh but, sensing he was about to go over the rope, threw the ball back into the outfield before he did so.
Stokes, who had earlier opened the bowling for the first time in his T20 career, returned for the 15th and struck with his first ball as Marsh whipped to deep square-leg to depart for 45 off 29 balls.
Jordan was rusty on his return from a fractured finger and took some punishment from David to give Australia firm belief with three overs to go.
Curran then snared David and kept things tight before Topley did likewise. While Cummins smashed a full toss for six from the first ball of the last over, Curran held his nerve at the death.