England faltered to a 59-run defeat in the first Royal London Series match against Australia as Matthew Wade’s bustling batsmanship proved decisive at the Ageas Bowl.
Australia needed Wade and Mitch Marsh’s unbroken century stand for the seventh wicket to keep them competitive, following their mid-innings stumble to Yorkshire’s Adil Rashid (4-59).
Then England’s attempt to chase 305-6 fizzled out under lights as they too lost quick wickets when they could least afford to – their last eight for 94 to end up 246 all out with 4.3 overs unused.
There was a half-century at the top of the order for the tourists from David Warner (59), but it was Wade’s unbeaten 71 from No 7 which proved telling after Steve Smith had chosen to bat under cloud cover.
On a pitch of decent pace, and a characteristically quick outfield at this venue, Rashid and the wicketless Chris Woakes were the pick of England’s bowlers.
Among their batsmen, opener Jason Roy (67) hit a heartening maiden fifty, but the hosts could not sustain their effort as this year’s World Cup winners prevailed again to go 1-0 up with four to play.
Australia laid the most conventional of platforms to set a score, reaching the 30-over mark on 155-2.
Joe Burns poked a full toss back at Rashid after putting on 76 with Warner.
Then Rashid did the trick again with the second delivery of his second spell, Warner giving himself room to drive a googly through the off-side but edging the attempted big hit to short third man.
Rashid continued his golden-arm day when Smith hit another full toss straight to deep mid-wicket, but the leg-spinner could claim more credit for pinning George Bailey lbw on the back foot.
That was three wickets in 19 balls for Rashid, and when Mark Wood got in on the act – Glenn Maxwell caught behind down the leg-side – Australia’s plan to keep batting resources intact for a late onslaught had misfired.
From the last ball of Rashid’s 10 overs, there was another home success, Shane Watson run out responding to a faulty single into the off-side called by Wade, as the tourists’ troubles extended to the loss of four wickets for 29.
But Wade made up for his early own goal in a half-century of rasping cuts and effective scurry which arrived in just 40 balls, after he had taken nine to get off the mark.
The wicketkeeper’s partnership of 112 with Marsh included 93 in the last 10 overs.
Roy and Alex Hales gave England’s reply a highly encouraging start, taking heavy toll of an initially off-colour Mitchell Starc.
Hales found little of the strike, though, and met a tame end with a pull to mid-wicket off Marsh.
Roy too, after a fine maiden half-century in international cricket which came at better than a run a ball and contained much sweet timing among 10 boundaries, went in anti-climax when he chipped a catch to point in the first over of off-spin from Maxwell.
The recalled James Taylor appeared set to play a significant hand, with some typically busy shots and running, until he went one short of his fifty – bowled aiming to leg, up the wicket to Watson.
Starc returned to present much more of a threat with the older ball, in a three-over second spell which cost just six runs and also did for Ben Stokes, who chipped a catch to mid-wicket.
But it was the loss of three wickets for no runs in four balls which stopped England in their tracks.
Eoin Morgan gloved behind, trying to pull Watson; then Jos Buttler drove Nathan Coulter-Nile to mid-off, and Woakes went first ball to the same bowler – also edging a pull to Wade – to make it 194-7.
England had no Wade or Marsh ready to bail them out, so it was game over.
England have added left-arm seamer Reece Topley to their squad for the remaining four matches in the series.