Two weeks after losing the Ashes, Australia beat England by four runs in the first of their seven one-day internationals.
England’s spinners did well to restrict Australia to 260-5 at The Oval but the tourists got an even firmer grip on the English run rate until a late flourish dragged the home side to 256-8.
England was jeered by the crowd for its slow scoring before a seventh-wicket blitz of 46 from 33 balls from Luke Wright and Adil Rashid made the match competitive.
Mitchell Johnson took three wickets in a 13-ball spell that cost just five runs to finish with 3-24.
The target had looked attainable on a slow pitch but England quickly fell behind Australia’s scoring rate as none of the top-order batsmen could build a game-changing score.
Only Wright, with 38 from 27 balls, Rashid and tail-ender, Ryan Sidebottom seemed to fully get to grips with the conditions and situation.
Ravi Bopara was the home team’s leading scorer with a sluggish 49 off 88 balls but his miserable summer, which included just 105 runs in seven Ashes innings and omission from England’s series-deciding victory, continued with a stumping off the bowling of Nathan Hauritz.
England had lost captain Andrew Strauss (12), only playing because of the injury sustained in training by Joe Denly, and dawdled to 83-1, when Johnson at point hung on to a reverse sweep struck by Matthew Prior, out of the air, to get rid of the wicket-keeper for 28.
Paul Collingwood survived a run out chance off the first ball he faced in a mix up with Owais Shah, who scored 40 off 48 deliveries before being hit-wicket.
With Bopara already out, Collingwood, seemingly reacting to jeers from the crowd, lashed out at Johnson to be dismissed for 23 from 39 balls thanks to Shane Watson’s two-handed catch above his head.
Stuart Broad managed two from five balls before becoming Johnson’s third victim. Rashid and Wright started hitting out to finally give an agitated crowd a few cheers. Wright was run out off a no ball and Sidebottom’s subsequent seven-ball 13 was in vain.
Rashid ended with 31 from 23 deliveries and also showed promise with the ball in his first ODI against a test nation.