England piled on the pain for Australia as the world champions slumped to a new low after losing a match marred by a video umpiring controversy on Sunday night.
A blistering half-century from the impressive Marcus Stoinis was not enough to prevent Australia from suffering a 16-run defeat at the SCG against an England side inspired by a century from Jos Buttler. The loss is Australia's 10th from its past 11 one-day internationals - their worst-ever 11-game span - and consigned the team to their first series defeat on home soil since 2010.
Australia had been on track to keep the series alive until captain Steve Smith was contentiously given out caught behind. A clearly unhappy Smith shook his head and appeared to mouth the words "no way" after video umpire Kumar Dharmasena ruled wicketkeeper Jos Buttler had completed a clean catch. With replays unable to conclusively show the ball had hit the ground, there was insufficient evidence to overturn the soft call on the field.
Former international captains Mark Taylor and Kevin Pietersen both believed the wrong call had been reached. "[The] fact he picked it up with the end of his fingers suggests to me he might have had to use a bit of the ground to ??? not to bounce out of his hand," Taylor said on Channel Nine. "He might not be aware of that, not trying to suggest he's trying to claim something he doesn't think he's caught. I think [there] might have been a little bit of ground involved to stop the ball bouncing out of his hand."Taylor also believed Smith would have survived had the on-field call been in his favour.
Former England captain Pietersen said he "absolutely" agreed with Taylor and called for the ending of the soft signal. "We've got enough technology and broadcast out there we should be able to make decisions off the camera and take the decisions away," Pietersen said. "The soft signal, I'm not having the soft signal. It's a very, very big passage of play that."
Smith had earlier been at the centre of a storm on social media after replays captured him shining the ball after rubbing his lips. The laws of cricket allow players to shine a ball "provided that no artificial substance is used".
In pursuit of 302, Australia needed 22 off the final over but ran out of puff when Stoinis was out with three balls to spare. Australia had six players reach double figures but none could match Buttler's blazing ton, which changed the game. With Buttler in overdrive, England crashed 102 runs in the final 10 overs after being well held for much of the innings.
Buttler, whose second 50 came off only 31 balls, and Chris Woakes, with a bone-crunching 53 off 36 deliveries, obliterated Australia's quicks at the death.
Pat Cummins was the pick of Australia's bowlers until being smashed for 34 in his final two overs.
The home side turned in an improved showing with the bat but questions remain over the composition of their top six.
The Australians fielded a new-look top four with Cameron White moving to No.3 and Smith to four, in place of the deposed Travis Head. Smith's shift is a clear indication he believes he is best suited playing as an anchor through the middle overs rather than as an enforcer against the new ball.
With 45 off 66 balls, he was fulfilling part of that role but departed when Australia needed him to accelerate.
White made only 17 before being caught behind trying to force off the back foot. He will be playing for his ODI future in the next two dead rubbers.
Mitchell Marsh batted well again for a half-century but the pressure of a rising run rate told when he holed out in the deep.