Australia cruise to opening win
Australia 342 for 9 (Finch 135, Maxwell 66, Bailey 55, Finn 5-71) beat England 231 (Taylor 98*, Marsh 5-33) by 111 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
New Zealand by 98 runs, Australia by 111. Who said hosting the World Cup brought added pressure? Day one showed why it would be no surprise if the two home nations met in Melbourne on day 45. In front of 84,336 fans at the MCG, Aaron Finch scored 135, Mitchell Marsh took 5 for 33, and Australia subjected England to their second-biggest World Cup loss in terms of runs.
Finch's hundred was the first of this World Cup; back in 1992, Martin Crowe struck the first century of the World Cup on the opening day and went on to be Player of the Tournament. Australia would love such a six weeks from Finch, but will settle for now with this win. Their 342 for 9 was their highest ODI total at the MCG, and England never really had a hope in their chase.
For England, the match was omnishambolic, even in its ending. James Taylor, who had shown some fight and reached 98, tried to whip Josh Hazlewood to leg and was given out lbw. He reviewed, and the ball was missing leg. But in scrambling for a leg bye, his partner James Anderson had been run out. Out, review, not out, review, out.
It capped off a muddled day for England. Having played Ravi Bopara through the tri-series and warm-ups, they dropped him and altered their batting order. Having opened the bowling with Chris Woakes through the tri-series and warm-ups, they made him first change. Generally they bowled, fielded and batted dismally.
Perhaps their captain's form is the best indicator of their current malaise. Since his 121 at the SCG nearly a month ago, Eoin Morgan has made 0, 2, 0, 0 and 0, including the World Cup warm-ups. Here, he was one of five wickets for Marsh, and was out for a six-ball duck, trying to hook but feathering a catch through to Brad Haddin.
Teams preparing to play Australia might expect to be skittled by a Mitchell, probably Mitchell Johnson, or maybe Mitchell Starc. But Mitchell Marsh? You'd expect the Spanish Inquisition before you'd expect that. Such was the fate that befell England at the MCG. After Starc started the rot by having Moeen Ali caught pulling to mid-on for 10, Marsh did his thing.
Gary Ballance, recalled and given the No. 3 job, fell to Australia's trap by flicking straight to short midwicket for 10. Ian Bell smashed a catch to Starc at deep midwicket for 36. Next ball Joe Root top-edged a sort of swivel pull and was taken by Haddin for 5. Marsh missed his hat-trick, but picked up two more wickets.
After he had Morgan, Marsh completed his first ODI five-for by having Jos Buttler stunningly snared by Steven Smith at short cover for 12. Buttler struck the ball so cleanly he could hardly have believed he himself would have taken the catch with gloves on, let alone Smith without. It was indicative of Australia's sharp fielding throughout, although Finch did drop a chance in the deep later on.
When Buttler fell, England were 92 for 6, and gone. Only the margin remained in question. Taylor and Chris Woakes showed some fight with a 92-run stand, helped by some generous bowling changes from George Bailey, who gave Smith a couple of overs. But on 37, Woakes lobbed a catch to mid-off from Johnson, then Broad was bowled by Starc for a golden duck and Steven Finn sent Johnson a return catch.
Taylor played some impressive strokes and finished with 11 fours and two sixes, and seemed set for his maiden ODI hundred. Perhaps he was miffed at being demoted from No. 3 to accommodate Ballance. Whatever the case, he was left unbeaten as England were dismissed for 231 in the 42nd over.
Their batting disappointed, but England had let themselves down badly with the ball and in the field. Chances were missed and proved costly. Their death bowling was aptly named. Glenn Maxwell murdered the many and various full and short balls offered up, hitting boundaries wherever he wanted. Yorkers were conspicuous by their absence as 76 came from the final six overs.
Finn finished the innings with five wickets and England's first ODI hat-trick in nearly five years. From the last three balls of the innings, Maxwell, Haddin and Johnson all holed out slogging for late runs. It was a hat-trick of about as much relevance as the one Shane Warne's son Jackson took in school cricket last week.
The late runs were the insult to England, Finch's century the injury. Finch punished England for dropping him in the first over of the match. Morgan had won the toss and sent Australia in, hopeful that the overnight rain would have left some moisture in the surface for his bowlers to exploit. The first couple of overs provided some swing, but that was about it.
Finch played nervously at his first ball, an Anderson outswinger that whizzed past the edge, and flicked his next uppishly to square leg. Woakes misjudged above his head and dropped what he should have taken, letting Finch off the hook and off the mark. David Warner offered a tougher chance at mid-off but was then bowled by Broad for 22.
Shane Watson edged behind first ball, and Smith chopped on off Woakes for 5. At 70 for 3 Australia were in some trouble after Finch and Warner's brisk 57-run opening stand. Finch had launched the attack by lofting Broad down the ground for four, but showed he could change pace as he and George Bailey steadied the innings with a 146-run partnership.
The run rate began to pick up when England used their spinners; Finch's eyes lit up like the zing stumps when Joe Root was given the ball. Root's first delivery was clubbed to long-on and his third was launched in the same region for six, but he was also starting to go after the fast men again, with a six crunched over long-off when Anderson went fuller and wider.
Finch's hundred came from his 102nd delivery when he flicked Finn to fine leg for a boundary, and his celebration was a Warner-style running leap. It was Finch's sixth ODI century but none have meant as much as this, on World Cup debut, in front of his home crowd. He joined David Boon as the only Australians to make a World Cup ton in Australia.
England had another chance to dismiss him on 123, when he swept Ali and took off for a run before turning back; Taylor's throw from short fine leg was far too high. It was indicative of England's sloppy day in the field. Finch moved on to the fifth-highest score by an Australian in a World Cup, before Morgan threw down the stumps to run him out. But the horse had bolted, and it had stable-mate.
After Bailey played on to Finn for 55, Maxwell assaulted England with 66 off 40 balls. Dropped by Buttler on 42, Maxwell used the pace to steer boundaries behind square and opened up to muscle them in front. Eleven fours he struck in total. Marsh made 23, Haddin 31 off 14, and the rest was history. So was England.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale