Home side’s opening Champions Trophy clash in the balance at the half-way mark.
A sparkling innings of 46 at better than a run-a-ball knock by Ravi Bopara helped out England in a strong position at the change of innings in their clash with Australia in the Champions Trophy.
England, at one stage, looked set to push their total towards 300 before a sluggish effort from their middle-order required some late innings heroics by Bopara and Tim Bresnan (19no).
The pair put on 56 for the last stand at the crease before their allotted 50 over expired, leaving the Three Lions on 269-6 at Birmingham.
Both England and Australia were down on form and confidence in the coloured uniforms heading into the game, but when the coin fell the way of Alastair Cook, he had no hesitation in choosing to bat first.
Cook and Ian Bell put on 57 for the first wicket before the skipper was sent packing after being drawn into a drive by Shane Watson (1-26 off seven).
Bell and Jonathan Trott then upped the scoring rate to see them put on an impressive 111-run partnership for the second wicket, before Mitchell Starc claimed the scalp of Trott for 43.
At 168-2 in the 34th over, England should have pushed the run-rate towards a run a ball, but good bowling and a conservative approach to the task saw Australia climb back into the match.
Bell (91) was denied a worthy century when he was bowled by James Faulkner off a full and straight delivery and when Joe Root (12) was dismissed by Clint McKay, the home suddenly fell to be 189-4.
Eoin Morgan (5) and Jos Buttler (1) both came and went without troubling the scorers setting up the late-innings partnership by Bopara and Bresnan.
Mitchell Starc was expensive for the Australian to finish with 1-75 off his 10 overs, while Mitchell Johnson and Watson only bowled 15 overs between them.
England v Australia
Played at Birmingham
Toss won by England
A. Cook c Wade b Watson 30
I. Bell b Faulkner 91
J. Trott c Wade b Starc 43
J. Root c Bailey b McKay 12
E. Morgan b McKay 8
R. Bopara not out 46
J. Buttler b Faulkner 1
T. Bresnan not out 19
Extras (lb12, w6, nb1) 19
Total (6 wkts, 50 overs) 269
Fall of wickets: 1-57 (Cook), 2-168 (Trott), 3-189 (Bell), 4-189 (Root), 5-212 (Morgan), 6-213 (Buttler)
Did not bat: S Broad, J Tredwell, J Anderson
Bowling: Starc 10-0-75-1 (1nb, 1w); Johnson 8-0-44-0 (1w); McKay 10-0-38-2 (1w); Watson 7-0-26-1; Faulkner 10-0-48-2 (1w); Voges 3-0-13-0; Marsh 2-0-13-0 (2w)
Australia: David Warner, Shane Watson, Phillip Hughes, George Bailey (capt), Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Wade (wkt), James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Clint McKay