England’s World Cup campaign started in disappointing fashion as they were thrashed by Australia at the MCG.
Eoin Morgan’s men were bowled out for 231 in pursuit of The Baggy Greens’ imposing total of 342-9 to fall to a 111- run defeat in the Pool A clash.
James Taylor (98no) top scored for England with his highest ODI total but was left stranded due to an umpiring error later deemed by the ICC be incorrect.
It mattered little in the context of the game as Mitchell Marsh (5-33) outgunned Australia’s senior bowlers with his first five-for.
Aaron Finch (135) had earlier starred for the co-hosts with the bat, crunching his sixth one-day ton on his World Cup debut after being dropped on nought by Chris Woakes.
Glenn Maxwell (66 off 40) also added quick-fire late runs for Australia, before Steven Finn (5-71) claimed the first hat-trick by an Englishman in World Cup cricket.
England, who picked Gary Ballance instead of Ravi Bopara, elected to bowl in Melbourne and should have had an early breakthrough but Woakes somehow shelled Finch at mid-wicket in the first over.
Finch made the most of his lifeline, firstly putting on 57 for the first wicket with David Warner (22) and then, when Warner and Shane Watson (0) fell to consecutive Stuart Broad deliveries and Woakes bowled Steven Smith (5), adding 146 with skipper George Bailey.
Right-hander Finch, who brought up his century of 102 balls, was run out by Morgan in the 36th over and Bailey dragged a Finn delivery onto his poles shortly after.
But Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh (23 off 20) and Brad Haddin (31 off 14) did not let Australia’s innings dwindle, plundering 116 from the final 12 overs.
Finn (5-71) finished Australia’s knock in good spirits, though, dismissing Haddin, Maxwell and Mitchell Johnson (0) in successive deliveries in the final over.
England were soon in trouble in their reply, however, with Moeen Ali (10) miscuing a pull shot and holing out to mid-on, and Ballance (10) chipping Marsh to short mid-off.
Ian Bell (36) had seemingly bedded in but he slogged to Starc at midwicket to hand Marsh a second scalp and the 23-year-old had a third next ball when Joe Root (5) top-edged behind to Haddin.
Taylor, shunted down to six with Ballance taking his No 3 spot, was next in but he wasn’t batting with his captain for long, as Morgan (0) presented Haddin with another catch to record his fourth duck in five innings.
Haddin showed his athleticism to dismiss Morgan, but that was nothing compared to Smith, who produced a stunning dive at short cover to pluck a firmly-hit stroke from Jos Buttler (10) out of the air and complete Marsh’s five-for.
England were 92-6 at that stage, though they increased that to 184-6 thanks to some good scampering between the wickets by Taylor and Woakes (37) and latterly some lusty blows.
However, the 92-run partnership ended when Woakes skied to Smith and when Broad (0) was bowled by for a golden duck and Finn (1) went caught-and-bowled, Taylor – who was dropped twice and survived a caught-behind review – was left with last man Anderson.
The Notinghamshire player moved to within two runs of his hundred, though after he successfully reviewed an lbw decision, Anderson (8) was run-out by Maxwell off the same delivery, with Taylor's pleas of dead ball falling on deaf ears.
But the ICC have since confirmed that a dead ball should indeed have been called by umpires Aleem Dar and Kumar Dharmasena as soon as the initial lbw decision was made.
Watch highlights of England’s game with Australia at 1pm, 5pm, and 9pm on Sky Sports World Cup on Saturday. Plus, for analysis of the match, watch The Verdict, at 2pm, 6pm and 10pm on the same channel.