Dawid Malan’s century was overshadowed as England were brought back down to earth after the high of their T20 World Cup triumph by Australia in the first of three one-day internationals.
A much-changed England lurched to 118 for five just four days on from T20 glory, but the innings was held together well by Malan, who made a terrific 134 from 128 balls on his return from a groin injury.
He clubbed 12 fours and four sixes as England posted 287 for nine but fifties from David Warner, Travis Head and Steve Smith helped Pat Cummins start his reign as Australia ODI captain with a six-wicket win.
Warner (86 off 84 balls) and Head (69 off 57) put on 147 for the opening wicket before Smith’s 80 not out off 78 deliveries got Australia home with 3.1 overs to spare at Adelaide, where seven days earlier England had produced a remarkable display to thrash India by 10 wickets and reach the World Cup final.
This, though, was largely a second-string England line-up as only Jos Buttler, Phil Salt and Chris Jordan were retained from the side that defeated Pakistan in Sunday’s World Cup final, with Luke Wood handed an ODI debut while several players on the white-ball fringes were given a chance to impress.
England had made no secret of their displeasure at the timing of this series, labelled “horrible” by Moeen Ali, and they started inauspiciously as Jason Roy’s lean run since the summer continued.
Dropped from the T20 side before the World Cup after a dismal run of form, Roy registered just six off 11 balls before being castled by a hooping inswinger from Mitchell Starc.
Either side of Roy’s downfall, Cummins’ precision accuracy found the outside edges of Salt and James Vince, while Sam Billings was cleaned up for 17 as Marcus Stoinis jagged one back in sharply.
A position of 66 for four was improved slightly but England captain Buttler miscued Adam Zampa to long-off to depart for 29 off 34 deliveries, as Malan, who missed the knockout stages of the World Cup last week after tweaking his left groin, was left with a sizeable rebuilding job.
He was dismissive of anything on his pads or short and wide, taking advantage of the shorter square boundaries, while he deployed the slog sweep effectively against Zampa and Ashton Agar.
He was technically dropped on 33 and 42 as Agar and Alex Carey failed to hang on to difficult chances. Malan then showed off his power by bludgeoning Cummins into the stands at long-on before a heave across the line off the fast bowler, almost on one knee, as he upped the tempo to reach a 107-ball hundred.
David Willey proved a capable foil with Malan in a hurry, dispatching both Agar and Zampa high over the boundary. A tremendous bit of athleticism on the rope from Agar, offloading the ball while in mid-air, denied Malan a fifth six, however.
Malan was then dismissed after flogging to Agar off Zampa but Willey’s 34 not out helped England add 72 runs in the last 10 overs.
England’s total seemed reasonable at halfway but their bowlers were unable to find anything resembling the kind of early movement their Australian counterparts had, and Warner and Head settled quickly.
Olly Stone bowled a maiden in the opening over of his first ODI in four years but dropped short in his second and was pulled for six by Head, replacing former captain Aaron Finch at the top of the order.
Warner was typically strong through the covers and even got down on one knee to lap Willey for six as Australia raced to 50 after eight overs, with England shuffling their bowling options to no avail.
Boundaries flowed freely and it was only when both Australia openers had passed fifty that England make a breakthrough in the 20th over as Head pulled Jordan straight to Salt in the deep.
Warner hooked to deep midwicket off Willey, who in his next over angled one fuller across Marnus Labuschagne, with Buttler diving to his right to take a brilliant one-handed grab.
With Smith, punchy through the covers and characteristically strong off his pads, there was little sense of late drama even if England dried up the run-rate as Australia’s innings progressed.
Malan’s leg-spin was given an airing in a bid to draw a late error but Smith crashed the part-timer down the ground for four then over deep midwicket for six to get Australia over the line.
The series resumes at Sydney on Saturday.