Ben Stokes' controversial dismissal overshadowed Australia claiming victory by 68 runs to take complete control of the one-day series against England at Lord's. The Durham all-rounder became the sixth player in limited overs cricket history to be given out for obstructing the field after being adjudged to have intentionally blocked a throw from Mitchell Starc which was destined to hit the stumps.
Stokes took evasive action from the shy at the stumps by Starc but the ball struck his dangled hand and was given out by the video umpire after a vehement appeal led by Australia captain Steven Smith, who would later be confronted by England counterpart Eoin Morgan. The incident worked to swing the game the way of the tourists and overshadow the world champions taking a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.
Smith had earlier scored 70 while Mitchell Marsh made 64 from 31 balls as Australia made their best one-day score at Lord's of 309 for 7. Pursuing a score which would have been the second highest successful chase in their one-day history, Morgan made 85 and James Taylor hit 43 but despite a string of late wickets seeing England bowled out for 245, the result will pale into insignificance against the backdrop of injustice.
Morning rain ensured a delayed start and a match reduced to 49 overs-a-side as England looked to claw their way back into the series, and quell Australia's southern dominance after Test wins at Lord's and The Oval and the one-day victory at the Ageas Bowl. Liam Plunkett replaced Mark Wood for just his third one-day appearance since 2011 while the tourists were unchanged in pursuit of adding respectability to the tour following their relinquishing of the Ashes.
Put into bat amid gloomy conditions, Australia's hopes of satisfying those demands were damaged after just two balls of their innings as a surprise bouncer from Steven Finn's first delivery to David Warner caught the opener flush on the thump. The 28-year-old called for immediate medical attention before leaving the field with a fractured bone which sees his series ended prematurely.
Fellow opener Joe Burns continued his form from his ODI debut in Southampton with a pair of off-drives from the seventh over off Finn. The Middlesex quick produced the perfect repost however with a seaming ball which smashed into Burns' (22) stumps.
England were unable to rediscover that early movement with the ball and Australia settled in the form of Smith and George Bailey, with both players putting Adil Rashid to the sword with boundaries either side of the wicket. Bailey's stylish innings saw him go to just his second half century in his last 11 one-day innings before Smith followed by slashing Stokes through point as Australia's grip on the game tightened.
The pair's partnership went to 99 before England grabbed the crucial breakthrough as Moeen Ali bowled the aggressive Bailey from his second ball of the innings. Smith (70) looked set to add to his double century from the Test series with another three-figure score but he sliced Rashid to Taylor at backward point.
New man Glenn Maxwell (49) muscled consecutive sixes over long on and a four off Ali but five balls later his brisk spell at the crease was over when he was trapped lbw by Finn. The dismissal did little to stifle the onslaught though as Australia accelerated towards a competitive total with Marsh first sending Ali for six, before Shane Watson found the top tier twice with two stunning hits in the same over.
Watson (39) holed out to Plunkett on the long on boundary as England staged a counter-attack with the ball but Marsh was unperturbed and he survived an outstanding effort from Jason Roy on the boundary to go to fifty from 26 balls. Marsh struck three successive fours from Stokes and though he was dismissed from the final ball of the innings, Australia ended on 309 for 7, their highest score at the home of cricket.
The hosts' attempts to level the series began in the grand manner, with Jason Roy striking Nathan Coulter-Nile for three boundaries in his first over. Alex Hales (16) however was less certain and after narrowing avoiding being caught at square-leg, he picked out Smith at cover as the Aussie captain produced a fine diving catch.
Pat Cummins saw Taylor dropped twice in successive overs from Burns and substitute Marcus Stoinis, but the right-armer eventually grabbed a wicket when Roy (31) played a loose shot which was snaffled by Matthew Wade. Taylor meanwhile looked increasingly uncertain but two pulls through mid-wicket settled the slight Nottinghamshire batsman.
The 25-year-old slalomed his way to 43, putting on a half century partnership with Morgan, before giving away his wicket is lacklustre fashion as he edged behind to Wade as Australia reasserted their control. The dismissal saw the required run rate go above seven-an-over for the first time as the pressure cranked up on the England middle-order.
Controversy would then take a grip of the match as Stokes (10) was given out for obstructing the field, taking evasive action as Starc fielded off his own bowling but inadvertently blocked the ball with his hand. Smith's appeal saw the decision go to the video umpire Joel Wilson, who ruled against the England all-rounder. The dismissal led to a frank exchange between captains Morgan and Smith as boos rung around Lord's.
England's injustice was accentuated when Maxwell trapped Jos Buttler (0) lbw, a decision overturned on review to leave Australia closing in on a second straight win. Starc should have drawn the celebrations closer but he put down a Morgan reverse sweep when the skipper was on 35. As the run rate then soared above eight England lost their sixth wicket and saw any remaining chances of staging an unlikely win end as Ali (8) slapped Maxwell to Marsh.
Chris Woakes (6) and Rashid (2) soon followed as Australia turned the screw but England delayed the seemingly inevitable by launching a fine offensive, with Plunkett (24) and Morgan put on 55 from 22 balls, before Starc broke the partnership. Cummins took his fourth wicket to complete the innings as Morgan hit straight to Maxwell but celebrations and pleasantries between both teams we muted amid the swathes of controversy.