Root comes on, perhaps in an attempt to prove his worth to the team other than using up reviews. England not picking a frontline spinner was a talking point at the start of the day - now it's just a mere footnote. Another let-off for Warner, this time when he takes on Jordan's arm and would've been a distant loser in the race had the ball not bounced up over the top of the waiting Ian Bell at the non-striker's end. It just keeps on getting better.
Is there any chance we could stop watching this game and see pictures of the Women's Ashes Test instead? At least that's a competitive fixture. Australia are currently 40-4 in Perth chasing 185 for victory. As for the MCG, Australia are a lot for none and chasing not a lot more for victory.
Cook places a slip when Finch is on strike to Rankin (who has now taken 0-43 from his seven overs), but Big Boyd is bowling too straight to offer that fielder much chance of getting involved in the game. Australia need another 131 to go 1-0 up in the five-match series as Stokes is summoned back into the attack.
This opening stand is now the highest for Australia against England, beating the unbeaten 118 put on by Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist. Finch celebrates the record by pumping Bopara over the top of mid-off for four more.
Warner completes a good comeback to the 50-over ranks, recording his seventh ODI half-century from 59 balls with a single out to deep square leg. The left-hander ends another Rankin over with a boundary, this time going on the pull and sending the ball well in front of square. At this stage of their innings, England were 90-3.
Stokes now misses a one-handed pick-up in the deep, allowing an extra run to be taken. He was already ticking after that wicket that apparently wasn't a wicket, plus these Australia openers kept sneaking singles off his bowling. I'd say the wheels are coming off, but that happened for England in Australia sometime shortly after they landed last year. Warner now one away from being 50-1.
Looks like being a good over from Rankin, that is until Warner whacks the final delivery of it back over his head for four. He's closing in on a half-century, Australia are closing in on victory at the MCG and I'm closing in on losing the will to live after this winter.
Finch and Warner add a further five runs to the total. Not sure I can add much more. He comes Rankin back into the attack - Cook either thinks he can turn things around with a wicket or this spell could usher us to a quick conclusion. I don't mind either option.
And it goes from bad to worse for England, Bresnan sliding around on the boundary and then somehow missing the ball entirely to allow it to go for four. The crowd offer ironic cheers to help ease the pain, BresiLad apologises to bowler Stokes and Australia's total goes through to three figures. The rest of the over sees far too many drop-and-run singles. This is all too easy for the hosts, England are in danger of suffering a slow and painful death.
Ravi Bopara on now, or as Greg Blewett beautifully calls him on commentary "Raaaarrrrveee Boparrrrrra'. About the only highlight of an over that gives up five comfortable runs. Australia need another 172 runs from the remaining 33 overs.
Jordan allows Finch a cheap single, deflecting a long barrier forward and then falling backwards as he tried to claw it back. This is not pretty to watch. All the experts in Sky Sports commentary box said that Buttler catch bounced off the fingers of his gloves, not the turf. Crowd booing as the replays were shown didn't help situation. Warner looked a tad sheepish when he returned to the middle. Just doesn't make the game look very good when technology appears to be hindering, not helping. Anyway, let's have a drink at the MCG. Make mine a double.
Six easy runs from the Bresnan over; the Yorkshire seamer is looking about as dangerous as a man holding a spoon at a gunfight. The last 10 overs have seen the hosts get 60 runs, as well as a plethora of lives.
50 for Finch, and a boundary to get there. The right-hander slams a drive off Stokes down the park, the ball striking the stumps and then sneaking under the diving Jordan at mid-on. This is the right-hander's third ODI half-century, and I'm sure all members of Clifton Alliance in York are celebrating the milestone of their former overseas pro. An eventful over should have seen Warner gone, but he's reprieved when the third umpire rules a catch to Buttler has not carried. Ball bounce off his finger into the top of his glove as he came forward, but the 19 replays watched and the television official decides otherwise. Poor, poor work by both the umpire and the game of cricket in general. Warner had to be called back from the boundary rope.
Easy singles on offer for both Australian openers - bit of a coast at the moment, with the required run-rate now at 5.24.
Even the stumps are against England - a throw from mid-wicket for a scampered single disturbs the furniture and results in an overthrow. England hit 19 fours and four sixes in their innings - hosts have already managed seven boundaries and one maximum in 12 overs.
Cook gets the chance to relax the field, though even he must realise wickets are needed here to win this match. England can't just sit and wait and hope. Stokes to replace the impressive Jordan, who sent down five overs at a cost of 24 but could have had at least 12 wickets during that spell.
Warner makes a horrible connection when trying to hit Jordan over the top, therefore getting lucky to see the ball loop up just short of the diving Ballance at mid-on. He does find the middle to finish the mandatory powerplay, pumping a full delivery for a six. With a fair amount of luck and a lot of positive strokeplay, Australia have given themselves a perfect platform to go on and win this match. Oh, and just to compare, England were 28-2 after 10 overs of their innings.
Finch shows he can play off the front foot after all, driving Bresnan's second delivery on the up back past the bowler for a four that brings up the half-century stand between these Australian openers. It's like musical chairs in the field now, Cook pointing and waving like he's trying to control traffic in rush hour. Australia off to an excellent start in their run chase - need another 212 for victory.
BORING, BORING WARNER...and now he too has been DROPPED! Mind you, tough chance for Jordan in his follow through, the bowler just sticking out a hand to a drive but proving unable to cling on. Bresnan now to come on to replace the wayward, expensive, too short, loose Rankin.
Finch continues to live dangerously, this time flicking a ball agonisingly out of reach of the diving Stokes at square leg. Well, they do say you've got to be good to be lucky, and lucky to be good. In which case, this boy Finch could be the next Bradman. Mind you, he will make a million if he keeps getting short deliveries to pull away from Rankin, who has now gone for 29 from his four overs.
Cook takes second slip out and moves him to short mid-wicket. Next ball duly takes edge of Finch's bat and goes right where Bell had been shifted from. Can this trip get any worse for England's skipper? Of course it can, still plenty of time to sink to greater depths. England also use up their review in an eventful over with an lbw appeal to the same batsman, a delivery from Jordan only clipping leg after initially being given not out on the field.
Poor over from Rankin; there's a leg-side wide followed by back-to-back boundaries, both from short balls. Finch has looked suspect to stuff pitched up, yet Big Boyd seems unable to pitch much in the right-hander's half. Finch continues to hog the strike by working the final delivery of the over off his hip for a single to fine leg. Australia need another 242 from the remaining 45 overs.
DROPPED! Finch his a drive straight towards mid-off, but the ball burst through the hands of Ballance. Not only does he miss the opportunity but also gives away a run. England cannot afford to shell chances, particularly when it is a player capable of taking the game away from them inside this opening powerplay.
Warner gets his first runs of the series with a powerful cut shot as Rankin drops in too short and too wide, as if failing to realise where the left-hander likes to hit the ball after his mountain of runs in the recent Ashes. However, 'Big Boyd' bounces back from the early boundary to make sure there are only four runs from the over.
David Warner has missed Australia's last 13 one-dayers. And for a player touted for his abilities in limited-overs cricket, his 50-over average for his country is just under 30. The first two deliveries he faces on his comeback are both leg-side wides from Chris Jordan, who starts them outside leg and gets them to move further away. The line is perfect, though, when Finch gets himself on strike. Good comeback after the shaky start from Jordan, and his pace is already up in the high 80s.
Boyd Rankin admitted after his Test debut that nerves overcame him in Sydney, including causing him to suffer cramp on the first day. No nerves here early on, though, as he beats Finch with a beauty to start with, one that cuts back in and clips the right-hander on the thigh pad. The opener makes better connection on the cut shot, netting him two behind point. A further pair of runs follow through wide mid-on, and Rankin does well to get down and stop the final delivery after it was driven back at him.
Well, more tea perhaps. Maybe even dinner if you're on Melbourne time. Anyway, Australia need 270 to draw first blood in the series. England did well enough with the bat, but remember they opted to select the extra batsman in Ballance in their XI. Their four frontline bowlers - minus a spinner - will need to perform. Australia, unlike their opponents, are unlikely to bat cautiously in the opening powerplay.
Good finish for England - after only a single from the first two deliveries, Buttler then belts Coulter-Nile over the head of captain Clarke at deep mid-wicket for a welcoming maximum. The Australia skipper had pushed himself in 10 yards from the boundary to stop the two, then duly watched the ball sail over his head and hit the rope on the full. He goes back onto the fence after that, allowing a mis-hit from the same batsman to get him two. 12 come from the final over, making it 33 from the last three. England have something to bowl at. I repeat - ENGLAND HAVE SOMETHING TO BOWL AT.
UP, UP, UP...AND AWAY! Bresnan connects beautifully with a full ball from Faulkner, sending it plenty of rows back for a massive maximum. This is a big ground - that deserved to be a 10. England last half-century has come up from just 38 deliveries, the fastest of their innings. Faulkner finishes with figures of 1-68, with the last five of them costing 46.
Buttler gets the scoop out to good effect, but Doherty does equally well to palm the ball back and save a couple of runs. However, Coulter-Nile gives them away with a low full toss later in the over that Bresnan bludgeons down the park past the diving man at mid-on. Nine from that one, 12 deliveries to go in this innings. 260 now the target for the tourists.
Good over from Faulkner, coming around the wicket and angling the ball in at both right-handers. Bresnan gets two with a rather ugly pull stroke but England can't find the boundary. Clarke has kept the off-side field in for Buttler, tempting him to go against the angle and away from his favoured leg side.
McKay finishes with excellent figures of 3-44 from his 10 overs. There was a boundary in the last of them, Ballance heaving him away square on the leg side, but England only managed seven from it. Coulter-Nile and Faulkner now the seemingly obvious candidates to finish the innings for Australia.
A terrific innings from Ballance is over when he's caught down at third man by Doherty. The same fielder had actually dropped an almost identical chance at the start of the McKay over. Ballance goes for a well-made 79 from 96 deliveries that included six boundaries.
Good over from England, Ballance slapping Faulkner away through square leg for a four and then Buttler finishing it with a scoop shot that he gets just enough on to deflect past fellow gloveman Haddin for four more. Australia had third man and fine leg up, tempting him to play one of his favourite shots.
Poor Stokes - as if getting cleaned up having an almighty slog wasn't bad enough, he then heads off towards the wrong exit from the ground. Six overs to go, 250 still the target - this is England's plan for how to play, a bit of a low-risk strategy aimed at making hay in the closing overs.
England's 200 had come up in the Faulkner over when Stokes tucks into something short, swivelling as he played the pull stroke to send it behind square leg. Tourists looking for a little cameo from Jos in these closing overs to get them up to 250, possibly even beyond.
Stokes perishes trying to pummel Faulkner somewhere beyond the MCG. He swings hard but misses completely, allowing the ball to go on and clip the top of his middle stump. He departs for 21 from 19. SEND FOR THE BUTTLER!
Ballance gets his first boundary for 14 overs, going on the sweep to Watson to send the ball backward of square on the leg side. Stokes is not looking to be so cute when he's on strike, charging down the pitch and miscuing a drive out towards deep extra cover for a single. England end up making nine from the over, showing the value of finding the fence at this stage of proceedings.
With the field relaxed again, it's back to singles to keep the scoreboard ticking over. There are six of them from Clint McKay's eighth over - he now has 2-32.
Stokes helps boost the scoring rate, pulling a delivery only a fraction short from Coulter-Nile for just the second boundary during the period of fielding restrictions. He finishes it with a swing and a miss, meaning the last five overs have yielded 24 runs for the loss of one wicket, that of Bopara (17). England continue at this current rate they make 229 - get up to six an over and it's 243.
Stokes opens his account in this match with a firm defensive prod into a gap in front of point. Ballance manages a couple himself, as four come from the over. England finding boundaries hard to come by as we have six more deliveries remaining in the powerplay period.
So it's Stokes at seven, not Buttler. He leaves alone the final deliver of the Coulter-Nile over, one that saw Clarke place in a slip for the left-handed all-rounder.
Having got the first boundary in this batting powerplay, guiding Coulter-Nile so fine that a diving third man can't quite cut it off, Bopara perishes trying to repeat the shot. All he manages second time around is to nick it through to the grateful gloves of Haddin, meaning he's gone for 17 from 21 deliveries.
Sloppy work from Australia. Clarke couldn't bend his glass back quickly enough to deal with a pointless shy at the stumps by Warner, what with Bopara comfortably home at the non-striker's end. Six come from Faulkner's over to take us through to DRINKS with this innings well-poised.
Good work from Coulter-Nile, giving Bopara no width to free his arms and also making sure he's not too full in length to be driven back over his head. A single to third man is all Ravi can manage, and Ballance finishes an excellent over with a flick straight to the short fine leg for no gain.
England now take the five-over batting powerplay. Coulter-Nile to bowl the first over in it...
Spin from both ends as Watson's off and Doherty returns. The slow left-armer gives up only a single apiece to each batsmen.
Ballance works two to mid-wicket and then hits the final ball of the Maxwell over out to deep extra cover to bring up his maiden 50 for England. Good work having come in with the score at 22-2 (and yes, we should all read that score whilst doing our best Richie Benaud impression...)
Good running allows England to get twos into this huge MCG field on three occasions, Bopara twice working Watson backward of square leg with his flexible wrists.
Bopara off the mark immediately with a single behind square on the leg side. Big wicket for both teams in seeing Morgan go - he'd made batting look easy on this pitch, as if everyone else was having a go on something else. Maxwell now has 1-37 - remember England have opted not to pick a frontline spinner in their XI. Watson back on in place of McKay, who will be saving overs for the batting powerplay and the closing stages.
Mixed emotions for Morgan - he nurdles a single to reach his 50 from 46 deliveries, including five fours and a six. It's his 20th half-century for England and he's made four of them in his last five innings against Australia in this format of the game. However, he's gone soon after, chipping Maxwell tamely to cover.
Morgan hits a lofted cover drive the way I wish I could hit my nine iron off the fairway - plenty of loft and little movement once it hits the ground, rolling just into the planned target. A single off the final delivery of the McKay means the Irishman will not only keep the strike but also move within one of a half-century.
Maxwell back on and he concedes just four singles, meaning he's now through six overs at a cost of 33 runs. Morgan hits one sweep powerfully enough, only it's too close to the man at backward square leg so he only gets a single.
"Beautiful player," says Nas on commentary when talking about Eoin Morgan. "Silky hands." Well, we know who does the dishes in the Morgan household then. Australia call Clint McKay back into the attack, perhaps looking to get a breakthrough and end this promising fourth-wicket stand. No wicket forthcoming, and England pick up eight runs to boot, all of them to Morgan including a Surrey cut for four down to the fine leg fence.
A further example of good batting from Ballance; having struggled to hit Watson's military medium through a packed cover region, he instead waits to get something a little straighter so he can hit over the top of mid-on. The over finishes in style as well, a cut shot going past backward point to make it 10 runs from it.
Morgan brings the half-century stand up for the fourth wicket, taking a pace or two down the pitch to Faulkner and lifting him imperiously over the head of mid-off for four. The partnership has come up in good time, too, taking 53 deliveries. Morgan has also now eased past his batting partner in terms of runs scored.
Good tip-and-run cricket from Ballance, dropping the ball at his feet and giving Morgan a little nod to call him through for a single. Steve Finn comes on at the end of the over to bring drinks out - remember when he used to play cricket? No, I can barely remember it either.
Morgan takes England's total into three figures with a fortunate four off Faulkner, top-edging a pull stroke high over the head of Haddin behind the stumps. Further indication of a two-paced pitch as the left-hander was through the shot comfortably before the ball had reached him. Second half-century from England took 60 deliveries, in comparison to 88 for the first.
Indeed, it's Watto to have a trundle. The last time he played against England he didn't do too much damage with the ball, but did happen to smash an unbeaten 161 from 150 deliveries in an Australia victory. Ajmal Shahzad and Steven Davies played for the tourists in that fixture, while a certain K Pietersen top-scored for them with the bat. Wonder if he's sitting at home now with a warm beverage watching now?
Morgan drives impressively on the up for a couple, but it's the only scoring shot off the bat in the Faulkner over (the other run coming courtesy of a leg-side wide). "Shane Watson wasn't at full fitness during the Ashes," says Greg Blewett, perhaps offering an early contender for understatement of the year. Well, he's doing some loosening up now and might be forced to have a bowl.
Morgan nudges a single, then can't quite cut one wide enough of McKay at short third man. Perhaps in frustration, he decides to belt the next ball from Doherty several rows back at long-off. The ease with which he hits those sixes is just not fair for us mere mortals who play the game. Oh, and another dropped catch in the crowd, too. Shoddy fielding from the locals so far today. England have managed 52 runs for the loss of Bell from the last 10 overs.
Faulkner - who seemed set to play in just about every Ashes Test because of injury concerns over Ryan Harris - seems to have a Monica Seles grunt with every delivery he releases. Very annoying. England's two left-handers in the middle milk five runs with a minimum of fuss.
Ballance now in on the boundary fun, rocking back to cut away a rare poor delivery from Doherty that got exactly what it deserved. England going along at 3.75, meaning they're heading for 188 at this pace. If they get to six-an-over rate then that'd get 255. Change into the attack for the hosts; Faulkner replaces Maxwell.
It takes Morgan all of three deliveries out in the middle to hit a boundary, the left-hander toying with Clarke's field as he hammers a Maxwell delivery with plenty of flight past the short extra cover fielder and away for four. No protection out in the deep there as Australia have placed a man at deep backward point to deal with the reverse sweep.
Morgan off the mark immediately, pushing a single into a gap at point. At least England are now into the batsmen who have enjoyed some limited overs practice, with Morgan, Bopara and Buttler having played recently in the Big Bash.
This effort at the slog-sweep isn't so good from Bell, who aims to hit Doherty over the rope but misses the ball entirely. A bit of turn from around the wicket means it hits middle stump about three-quarters from the top. We will take DRINKS in Melbourne with England three down and comfortably their most fluent batsman so far now in the hutch for 41 from 56 deliveries.
Maxwell gets the chance to repair his figures, and does a decent job of it by giving away only two singles in the over. He also gets the chance to appeal for a leg before decision against Ballance, who foolishly plays for turn. The bowler likes it, he REALLY likes it, but Clarke is not interested in using the review system once the initial decision is given not out.
Doherty doing a much better job than his spin twin, he's now leaked only the nine runs from his 18 deliveries sent down. Clarke keeps faith with Maxwell, despite having both Watson and Faulkner as more frontline options.
Now Bell is just spoiling us, getting the first six of the series with a cracking slog-sweep when Maxwell comes around the wicket to him. Beautifully timed blow, though dropped in the front row of the crowd. That might be Maxwell's last over for the time being - his three overs have now cost 21 when England are only going along at 3.80 for the entire innings.
A boundary! ENGLAND HAVE HIT A BOUNDARY AGAIN! Bell gets it, taking the reverse sweep out of the locker to deflect Doherty away fine. Not sure if another fielder would've caught up with it, but Shane Watson never looked like he broke out of a jog trying to 'chase' it down.
The boundary drought continues as David Warner does well out at deep mid-wicket to cut off a firmly struck Bell pull stroke. The last ball of the Maxwell over, a rank long hop, should definitely have reached the rope, only Bell paddles it too close to the man at short fine leg.
Doherty concedes just the three runs from his opening over; Australia even pop a slip in when Ballance is on strike. It's now eight overs since England last reached the boundary rope.
Australia looking to sneak a few overs in from Maxwell, the million dollar man. Ballance finally gets his first one-day runs for England with a drive that squirts off the outside half of his bat and away for three past backward point. Singles follow afterwards, with six coming from the over. Going to be spin from both ends, too, as Xavier Doherty comes into the attack.
Bell plays a lovely-looking straight drive, one that pins bowler Coulter-Nile on the boot and then spins away past Bailey at mid-on for a couple of runs. Would've been a rare England boundary had it not been the deflection off the foot. And so the first powerplay comes to an end - safe to say Australia have been the dominant side during it. The score predictions in the Sky Sports commentary box are dropping by the dot ball.
Bell nearly finishes the ninth over by holing out to deep square leg on the pull. Fortunately, both for him and England, the shot falls comfortably short of the fielder. The tourists going along at 2.88 an over so far - don't think 140 is going to be enough, though.
Snicko, which is not being used in this series, has indicated Root may have got some bat on that lbw decision. The issue was his delay in going for the review, including him asking Ian Bell for his opinion. I type that because there's little to mention in the Coulter-Nile over - just for a change, Australia's seamers are on top.
Gary Ballance in at no 4 - he strikes his first delivery confidently enough, but can't get it past Clarke at point. This is the left-hander's second ODI appearance - he marked his debut with a duck! Poor work from his Yorkshire colleague Root to review, he must've known if he hit it first or not, surely? Continues his poor form with both bat and DRS in Australia.
Root's tortuous little knock comes to an end, as he's adjudged lbw when trapped in the crease by McKay. There's two noises at the time, but the young Yorkshireman doesn't review immediately. Eventually the 'T' sign comes...and then replays quickly show why he was hesitant - there's no clear indication of an inside edge and England are two down.
Coulter-Nile cuts Root in half with one that ducks back in off the seam. There's life in this pitch, might even do a little more later under the floodlights. Just the single, for Bell into the covers, from the over. England going steady but unspectacular so far.
Root scampers two with a flick backward of square, then struggles in the rest of the over to locate the middle of his blade. Clarke does well to cut off a square drive to finish another good over from McKay, who has now taken 1-7 from his three overs.
Bell gets two through mid-wicket with a nice flick off the back foot, then another run follows in the same region off a thick inside edge. Root finally gets off the dreaded 'O' with a push towards square leg for one. The over finishes with a glorious straight drive by Bell that goes back past the bowler for four. Swing for the seamers, but these two aren't Mitch and Rhino. Mind you, who is?
Average score batting first in the last 10 ODI games at the MCG: 264. Root misses the chance to get off the mark when he cuts a nice, juicy long hop too close to the diving Michael Clarke at backward point. A swing and a miss finishes the over from McKay - fortunate that last ball wasn't called a wide.
Nathan Coulter-Nile gets the other new cherry. There's a sighter wide of off that Bell will be grateful for first up, then a wide follows. After the Warwickshire batsman plays and misses, there is some contact with willow to the next, a well-placed drive running away for three. Root - who averaged nine, yes NINE, in the four one-dayers against Australia at the end of the last English summer, nicks an 'inducker' short of Watson at first slip.
Swing for McKay, but that's hardly surprising with these white balls. Cook was just feeling for that delivery he edged, groping away outside his off stick to give Haddin his millionth catch against England over the last 10 months. Root sees out the rest of the over - now it's clear why the tourists picked a long batting line-up...
Poor Alastair Cook. Poor, poor Alastair Cook. If it's not Ryan Harris, or Mitchell Johnson, it's Clint McKay. The England captain had survived a loud leg before shout to the first ball of the match (was too high, albeit only just) but after hitting a boundary to get the innings up and running, nicks the fourth ball through to wicketkeeper Haddin.
If you have an opinion or want to send in a score prediction, if you just want to tell me what the hell you're doing up at this time, send an e-mail to Rob.Lancaster@bskyb.com, or tweet to @SkySportsLanny
"There are one or two cracks," says Nick Knight, a new addition to Sky's one-day line-up. "It could be a little two-paced." England's plan is to make something around 300 and hope their seam-heavy attack can defend it.
Australia had already confirmed their XI - no James Pattinson and no Shaun Marsh. They, unlike their opponents who have left out a frontline spinning option in James Tredwell, have Xavier Doherty in their attack. Glenn Maxwell can also bowl some twirlers.
"It's a fantastic day and it looks a good wicket," says captain Cook. England have gone long with their batting line-up, perhaps worried about lasting 50 overs these days. Joe Root is at three without KP in this series, Gary Ballance at four and there's ODI specialists in Morgan, Bopara and Buttler in the order. Stokes, the scorer of England's only century in the Tests, is down to bat at eight!
The news from the middle is that Alastair Cook has won the toss (we should make the most of even the smallest of victories Down Under these days...). England will bat first at the MCG.
And welcome to over-by-over coverage of the opening match of five in the one-day series between Australia and England. Melbourne is the venue for the first chapter. A place where England lost in the Ashes, of course, seen as they lost everywhere in the Ashes.