They bowled well to limit Australia to 157 – and that could have been much less – then Jos Buttler and Dawid Malan shared 87 to haul in the target just four wickets down.
With the game broadcast live on BBC1, it was not the thrilling contest some might have craved, but an England win featuring hair-raising moments from Buttler and Jofra Archer, who clocked 95.8mph in his second over, will do just fine.
Archer and Mark Wood were at their paciest as Australia made a dreadful start having chosen to bat first on a used pitch.
David Warner gloved Archer behind third ball, and took a review with him. Then Alex Carey, strangely promoted to No3, had a big yahoo at Wood and was caught at the wicket. Both men were purely beaten for pace as Archer and Wood operated almost permanently in the nineties; after two overs, Australia were three for two and in big trouble. England’s dominance was reflected by the presence of three slips for Archer.
So for Steve Smith, the order’s glue, to run himself out after taking two boundaries from Tom Curran’s fifth over was unwise. It was smart fielding from Eoin Morgan close on the legside, but brainless cricket from Smith.
It was left to Aaron Finch and Marcus Stoinis to rebuild, which they did well by putting on 49 in seven overs. Both men hit the ball with power, as Morgan learnt when intercepting a rasping Finch strike off Adil Rashid. The England captain’s finger was dislocated, and he briefly left the field.
Finch, playing on to Chris Jordan, and Stoinis, caught at slip off Rashid’s final ball (this was the second game in a row he took a key wicket with his 24th delivery) fell in successive overs and, at 89 for five with seven remaining, were back in trouble. A score beyond 150 looked beyond them.
But thanks to a stand of 43 between Glenn Maxwell and Ashton Agar, and some impressive late hitting from Pat Cummins, they managed to scramble to 157 for seven.
England made a solid if unspectacular start to their innings, with Jonny Bairstow contriving to hit his own wicket when evading a Mitchell Starc bouncer.
That brought Buttler and Malan together, and they took their time to build the match-winning partnership, continuing the strong form they showed on Friday night. Buttler drove with power, while Malan was inventive, reverse-sweeping the spinners for boundaries twice and going over cover.
Malan eventually holed out to deep midwicket off Agar. The fielder was Stoinis, and across the next two balls, Buttler had him running left then right – both in vain – with Buttler driving then reverse-sweeping boundaries.
He lost Tom Banton, carelessly sweeping Agar, and Morgan, drilling straight to cover, but was joined by Moeen Ali to finish the job with seven balls to spare. England had gone into the penultimate over needing 18 to win and Moeen smashed Adam Zampa – legspin is his favourite – down the ground the over cover for four.
That allowed Buttler to smash an enormous six into the pavilion to win the game. This was Buttler being clinical rather than brutal. For England’s opponents, that is a fearsome prospect.