England were 141 for three, chasing a daunting 310 to win, when Ben Stokes was given out by the TV umpire for 10 ‘obstructing the field’ for stopping paceman Mitchell Starc’s shy at the stumps with his left glove while out of his crease.
It was harsh on Stokes as he appeared to be acting more in self-defence than trying to prevent being run out.
The all-rounder had joined captain Eoin Morgan in the middle after James Taylor’s promising innings of 43 ended when he nicked Mitchell Marsh to Matthew Wade.
The Stokes decision, and another collapse that included a duck for Jos Buttler, left England in trouble but Morgan responded with a flurry of huge hits before holing out for 85 to end the match.
Pat Cummins had the England skipper caught by Glenn Maxwell as the paceman finished with four for 56.
Morgan was clearly angry, with the performance of his outplayed team and with opposing captain Steven Smith for not withdrawing the Stokes appeal.
“If the guy throws the ball in your direction from five yards then all you can do is flinch, you don’t have time to think,” said Morgan.
“The decision was made and I certainly feel it would have been different if we were fielding.”
“It was blatantly out. The ball wasn’t going to hit him, Stokes was out of his crease, he put his arm out and got in the way of the ball,” he said.
After a rain-delayed start that reduced the match to 49 overs per side, Australia suffered a blow when David Warner was struck on the thumb by a venemous Steven Finn ball in the opening over and was forced off.
Warner suffered a fracture and will miss the last three matches.
Finn bowled Joe Burns for 22 before George Bailey and Smith set about building a solid platform.
The pair had put on 99 for the second wicket when Bailey went for 54, bowled by a turning Moeen delivery.
Smith was out for 70 but Maxwell, Marsh and Shane Watson then smashed 96 came off the last 10 overs.
Marsh was particularly cavalier, belting seven fours and three sixes in a 31-ball 64. Stokes was the pick of England’s attack with three for 60.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman,; Editing by Tony Jimenez)