Aaron Finch scored an emotional and historic 121 to guide Australia to a six-wicket win in Sunday’s opening one-day international clash at the MCG.
Australia continued their domination over England following their five-nil Ashes sweep with victory in 45.4 overs on Sunday, scoring 4-270 in reply to England’s 7-269.
Finch’s century came after his opening partner David Warner was recalled from the boundary by the umpires in bizarre circumstances.
Warner on 22 edged a catch to Jos Buttler off the bowling of Ben Stokes. The batsman appeared to accept the wicketkeeper’s word the ball had carried and started to walk off.
But umpires Simon Fry and Ranmore Martinesz called for a review and Sri Lankan TV umpire Kumar Dharmasena instructed the on-field officials to recall Warner.
Warner was eventually caught at long on for 65 after an opening stand of 163 with Finch, a record for Australia against England.
Shane Watson was bowled by Chris Jordan for a second-ball duck.
Finch reached his century off 108 deliveries and gave his captain Michael Clarke a massive hug to the cheers of 38,066 fans.
Finch’s only previous century in his 19-game ODI career was against Scotland in Edinburgh in September 2013.
It’s the first time a Victorian has scored an ODI hundred at the MCG.
Finch had plenty of luck.
On eight the right-hander offered a simple head-high chance to Gary Ballance at mid off, who made a mess of it.
A superstar in the 20-over format, Finch was also given not out on an lbw appeal on 24.
England called for a review which showed the ball would have just clipped the stumps which meant the original decision stood, in another stroke of luck for the 27-year-old Finch.
“I had a bit of luck. You have to make the most of it,” Finch told ABC Radio.
Man of the match Finch was caught at third man – by Ballance off Stokes – at 3-237. Clarke (43) fell 10 runs later.
Glenn Maxwell (eight not out) and George Bailey (17 not out) were unbeaten to see Australia home with 26 balls to spare.
Seamer Clint McKay claimed 3-44 in England’s 7-269.
Zimbabwe-born second-gamer Ballance top-scored with 79.
McKay took the key wickets of Alastair Cook (four), Joe Root (three) and Ballance.
Eoin Morgan (50) and Ballance added 83 for the fourth wicket after England had been 3-62.
Brisbane will host game two of the five-match series on Friday as second-ranked Australia aim for top spot by the end of the series.
Cook said Buttler had taken a clean catch.
“It might be my biased English eyes on it. I thought it was a pretty clean catch,” the England skipper said.
“It hit his fingers and it bounced up.
“We have to respect the umpire’s decision. We know we have to, otherwise we get in trouble.”
Finch said Warner had been told by an official to stay on the field as the umpires were reviewing the catch.
“Davey took Jos’s word and he’s a very honest guy and a very nice guy,” Finch said of Buttler, who is Finch’s BBL Melbourne Rengades teammate.
Finch said he hoped his century had boosted his chances of World Cup selection in 2015 and added it was important for the team to go one-up in the series and keep the pressure on England.
“When you get accolades like that, it’s nice,” Finch said of becoming the first Victorian to make an ODI hundred at the MCG.
“It was a very big relief to get the hundred and in front of my home crowd, it was very special.”