ENGLAND lost by 64 runs on a controversial day at Lord’s as Australia took a 2-0 lead in the Royal London one-day international series.
Eoin Morgan (85) batted brilliantly at times - yet for the second successive occasion his team were unable to chase a total in excess of 300, this time faltering to 245 all out in 42.3 overs.
This was a match sure to be remembered for other reasons too, though, after England’s response to 309-7 veered off course when Ben Stokes became just the seventh batsman in international cricket to be given out obstructing the field.
The hosts were up against it already after half-centuries from captain Steve Smith, George Bailey and a third in just 26 balls from Mitch Marsh helped Australia overcome the disadvantage of batting first in a match shortened to 49 overs each after a delayed start.
Stokes’ departure left England 141-4 in the 26th - and despite Morgan’s increasingly clean hitting, especially in a half-century eighth-wicket stand with Liam Plunkett which contained seven fours and three sixes in just 20 balls, England could not get close.
Mid-air trying to regain his ground as Mitchell Starc threw the ball back to try to run him out after fielding a straight-drive, Stokes thrust out his left hand.
Following the instinctive referral from Kumar Dharmasena on field, slow-motion perusal by third umpire Joel Wilson was enough to convince the officials Stokes was out.
He therefore fell to his sport’s rarest mode of dismissal - the Laws stipulating he must have made a ‘wilful attempt to obstruct or distract the fielding side’.
Much booing, and heated opinion on commentary, ensued - but it was hard to argue against the decision made.
Either way, for England it was the beginning of the end - Jos Buttler continuing his unproductive summer when he was lbw on DRS, pushing forward at Glenn Maxwell, and Moeen Ali sweeping the off-spinner to square-leg.
England had lost both openers inside 12 overs, each after getting a start, Alex Hales driving Nathan Coulter-Nile inside out to cover and Jason Roy caught-behind chasing a wide one off Pat Cummins (four for 56).
James Taylor was dropped on one and nine, but could not make his fortune count - departing for his second fortysomething in as many innings when he edged Marsh behind.
It was when Stokes was out, though, that controversy reigned at HQ - and even Morgan could not get England home, last out to Cummins caught at long-off.
They missed an obvious chance to level the series, after winning a very handy toss.
The tourists had to contend with lateral movement off the pitch against the new ball - and also lost David Warner retired hurt when Steven Finn hit him on the left thumb with the second delivery of the match. Warner did not return, and will miss the remainder of the series after X-rays revealed a fracture.
Joe Burns missed a drive at Finn and was bowled but Smith (70), back at the scene of his Test double-century this summer, found a new ally in Bailey (54). The second-wicket pair put on 99 in under 20 overs.
Bailey fell in the first over from Moeen, making room to force into the off-side off the back foot but bowled leg-stump by an off-break which turned sharply.
Smith also went to spin, Adil Rashid at the nursery end, when he miscued a drive at a leg-break and was caught at backward-point.
Just as Maxwell was eyeing his opportunity to backload the innings - having hit two sixes and a four from the last three balls of a Moeen over which cost 19 - he aimed a full delivery from Finn to leg and went lbw for 49.
Morgan kept Moeen on for two more overs, and his last was again very costly - another 19 coming off it as Marsh (64) and Shane Watson climbed in with the maximums.
Marsh had licence to attack, and did so emphatically as he and Watson muscled two sixes each in a stand of 63 from 44 balls.
Despite late wickets for Stokes (3-60), 96 runs still came in the last 10 overs - before England’s day went from mediocre to worse.