Australia threw down the gauntlet to the title contenders with a crushing 111- run victory over England with their opener Aaron Finch smashing the first century of the World Cup in a match where England’s Steven Finn picked up a hat-trick in a day full of action.
After New Zealand made a short work of Sri Lanka defeating the Lions by 98 runs, it was Australia who enjoyed their prowess with the bat and as the hosts piling up a mammoth 342-9 in 50 overs. James Taylor, into his 12th ODI and first World Cup, missed a century by two runs in a bizarre fashion before the English side was 231 all out in 41.5 overs.
Mitchell Marsh was the major tormentor with a five-wicket haul that included a duck dismissal of England skipper Eoin Morgan. The former Ireland batsman was confident to end his run slump when it mattered the most but the poor run of form continued for him.
Opener Ian Bell was the only batsman from England top order to bat with aggression making 36 off 45 with four boundaries. Mitchell Starc dismissed opener Moen Ali (10) early but it was Marsh who put their arch rivals on the back foot accounting for rest of the five wickets to fall as England were heading towards a humiliating defeat at 92-6.
Taylor stepped in an spared England blushes with a 92-run stand for the seventh wicket with Chris Woakes who was out for 37 off 42 with two boundaries. After Woakes fell, England were quickly reduced to 195-9 but Taylor resisted with last man James Anderson before getting stranded for 98.
Josh Hazlewood shouted for a leg before decision against Taylor who was earlier given out by umpire Aleem Dar. Taylor, however, asked for a review and the decision was called off. But leg umpire Kumar Dharmasena checked a run-out and it appeared that Anderson was run out by Maxwell while scampering for a single.
Taylor hit 11 boundaries and two sixes in his 90-ball knock. Marsh finished with 5-33 from nine overs. Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson had two wickets each.
Earlier, Stuart Broad removed opener David Warner (22) and Shane Watson for a duck in back-to-back deliveries. And with Woakes removing Steven Smith for five, the hosts were reduced to 70-3 in 10.3 overs.
But Finch fought back in style setting the tournament ablaze with a century on the first day. He shared 146-run partnership with skipper George Bailey. Finch’s 128-ball innings off 135 included 12 boundaries and three sixes.
Bailey completed his half century before he was cleaned up by Finn for 55 off 69 with three boundaries. Australia’s most aggressive batsman Glenn Maxwell then combined for a 53-run stand with Marsh (23) and 61 with Brad Haddin (31) before Finn starred with the hat-trick in the last three balls of Australian innings.
Finn had Braddin caught by Broad before Maxwell threw away his wicket holing out a catch to Root. The lanky paceman then complete his hat-trick in the last ball removing Johnson for a duck. Maxwell smashed 66 off 40 with 11 boundaries.