Melbourne - Kevin Pietersen scored 78 and captain Andrew Strauss added 63 as England set Australia 295 to win the first of seven One Day Internationals.
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Strauss won the toss and elected to bat first, with England bowled out for 294 in their last over at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Australia wasn't helped by Brad Haddin's three missed stumpings and other lost opportunities in the field.
Pace bowlers Brett Lee (2-43) and Mitchell Johnson (2-54), and spinners Steve Smith (2-12) and David Hussey (2-42) were Australia's leading wicket-takers.
Strauss and Steven Davies put England on target for a big total with an opening partnership of 90 in 12.1 overs.
Hussey improved his World Cup hopes by bowling Davies on 42, but only after the England opener had already enjoyed four escapes including a missed run out, a dropped catch at short cover and a stumping chance.
Lee had Davies caught at fine leg for four, but umpire Bruce Oxenford called for a video review which showed the bowler had overstepped.
Hussey struck again when Jonathan Trott was well-caught by Haddin for six in the 15th over. But Haddin missed another stumping off Xavier Doherty (0-40) with Strauss on 48.
Lee's pace rattled Strauss, who popped a catch to mid-wicket at 131-3, and Smith had Ian Bell caught at cover for 23. Eoin Morgan (8) also fell to Smith's bowling as Australia grabbed the momentum at 186-5.
Haddin failed a third time to complete a stumping when Pietersen was on 38 facing Hussey, and the powerful South African-born batsman celebrated with successive sixes.
Doug Bollinger (1-57) dismissed Michael Yardy (9), but Pietersen was pacing the innings well until Johnson booted the ball onto the stumps in his follow-through to complete a runout in the 44th over.
Pietersen belted three sixes and two fours in his 75-ball innings, his first half-century in one day cricket since 2008. Tailender Tim Bresnan hit a quick 28.
Australia rested pace bowler Shaun Tait because of back stiffness, while England left out veteran batsman Paul Collingwood.
Sunday's game was a crucial encounter for both sides, which have to name their 15-man World Cup squads by Wednesday for the tournament starting next month in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Strauss and Australia skipper Michael Clarke wore 1970s-style headbands to celebrate the 40th anniversary of ODI cricket, which began when the two sides clashed at the MCG in January 1971.