Southampton (UK), May 25: Steve Smith's brilliant hundred and a clinical show by the bowlers at the death helped Australia beat England by 12 runs in their World Cup warm-up game here on Saturday.
Smith, who returned to the national team along with David Warner after completing a 12-month ban for their involvement in the infamous ball-tampering scandal last year, hit a 102-ball 116 to help Australia post 297 for 9 after being asked to bat.
England, the top pick for the experts to win the World Cup beginning on May 30, were poised to chase down the target, reaching 197 for 4 in the 34th over but after that they lost the plot as they were bowled out for 285 in 49.3 overs.
The highlight of the England run chase was the 71-run stand for the fourth wicket between James Vince (64) and Jos Buttler (52) who stood for Eoin Morgan as captain for the World Cup hosts. England were in a strong position even after Vince was dismissed in the 34th over, needing 101 run from 16.1 overs.
They needed 61 runs from the final 10 overs with five wickets in hand. But in the end, England fell short by 12 runs to lose the match.
For Australia, Jason Behrendorff and Kane Richardson picked up two wickets each while Nathan Coulter-Nile, Adam Zampa, Nathan Lyon and Marcus Stoinis got a wicket apiece. Lyon, Richardson and Stoinis made run making difficult for the Englishmen in the death overs and helped Australia bowled the home side out.
The warm-up game was an eventful one with England pacers Mark Wood and Jofra Archer suffering injury scares while spinner Liam Dawson split the skin on his right finger. Former skipper and current England assistant coach Paul Collingwood was forced to take the ground as a substitute fielder.
The crowd also booed Australian batsmen Smith and Warner in their first match against England after returning from the 12-month ban for their involvement in a ball-tampering scandal in a Test match in South Africa last year. Smith continued his ominous form with a 102-ball 116 which was lashed with eight fours and three sixes. He had hit 89 not out, 91 not out and 76 in his last three competitive matches.
Warner, who was also in top form during the IPL last month, chipped in with 43 from 55 balls after his opening partner captain Aaron Finch was dismissed cheaply for 14. Coming out to bat at the fall of Warner, Smith showed that he is still one of the best in the business despite not having played international cricket for one year. He shared 79 runs with Usman Khawaja (31) for the fourth wicket and 42 with Carey for the six wicket to take Australia near to 300 runs.
Smith was out in the penultimate delivery of the Australian innings in bizarre circumstances as third umpire Joel Wilson ruled him caught and bowled by Tom Curran off what looked like a bump ball. For England, Liam Plunkett was the most successful bowler with figures of 4/49.
Australia: 297 for 9 in 50 overs (Steve Smith 116; Liam Plunkett 4/69).
England: 285 all out in 49.3 overs (James Vince 64, Jos Buttler 52; Jason Behrendroff 2/43, Kane Richardson 2/51).