Shane Watson might have trouble making Test hundreds but in the 50-over game he possesses the happy knack of reaching three figures after hitting the eighth one-day hundred of his career.
Watson made 143 off 107 balls at the Ageas Bowl on Monday and at times he looked almost impossible to bowl at. Dominant though he was, however, Australia faltered over the last 20 overs of their innings to be dismissed for 298 in 49.1 overs, a target England still needed to set a ground record to beat.
A hulking figure at the crease, Watson has a front-foot drive that scorches the grass and a pull shot that leaves vapour trails in its wake. He employed both against a green England attack that could have wilted but did not, after he and Michael Clarke had added 163 for the fourth wicket.
The two present such a contrasting pair at the crease - Watson coming at you with the full face of the bat while Clarke works the angles - that it is hard for seasoned pros to bowl at them let alone young men starting out.
Both men have played for Hamp-shire previously, as had Phillip Hughes, so they know the ground well, and Clarke had no hesitation in batting first after winning the toss despite the threat of showers.
Yet England's young shavers did pretty well, Chris Jordan bowling fast (his quickest deliveries into the 90s-mph) in place of the injured -Steven Finn, and Ben Stokes bowling with skill and control to take his first five-wicket haul in this format of the game. Stokes, we are told, was picked for this series mostly for his bowling, which has been improving month-on-month this season.
Those who have known him longest still reckon his greatest talent lies with the bat, which gives him a decent chance of being England's first all-rounder of note since Andrew Flintoff.
Whether his potential to fill that pivotal role in the team is enough to get him the nod on an Ashes tour this winter, especially after his bad behaviour on a Lions trip there earlier in the year, remains to be seen. Boyd Rankin bowled impressively too, his height and pace discomfiting every batsman.
He only took one wicket but not even Watson felt confident of liberties against him and providing he can convince the selectors of his fitness in coping with longer, multiple spells he has a good chance of making the Ashes tour.
From the 10th over to the 31st England's bowlers and batsmen witnessed a masterclass of one-day batting from two men acknowledged to be among the best in the business.
On a true pitch, their ability to find the gaps and therefore the boundaries would have had many more experienced captains than Eoin Morgan uprooting their own hair by the handful.
But if Morgan was fretting he never showed it, a poker face if ever there was. Strong as their grip over England looked, while Watson and Clarke were scoring when and where they wanted, Australia lost their way in the last third of the game, scoring 93 for seven off the last 20 overs.
They had been 202 for three at 30 overs and on course for a big one beyond 340. But they took the batting powerplay and promptly lost their direction after Clarke's departure to a loose slog that screamed "sore back".
England's bowlers, attacked early on after they were forced to blood Jordan following Finn's withdrawal with a side strain, sensed an oppor-tunity and came hard. Watson was denied the strike while George Bailey, so full of authority in the -previous match, failed to find his 'A' game while Adam Voges scratched around for 17 balls.
Watson, so brutal in the early part of his innings, was forced to take stock though he still found his range in one over from Root which he struck for 28, including three sixes and two fours. It was the most expensive over in a one-day international by an England player since the 26 runs conceded by Graham Gooch against New Zealand at Old Trafford in 1986.
The adrenalin thrill of belting Root, who was filling in some of James Tredwell's overs after the off-spinner suffered another pasting, led to Watson trying to launch Stokes but to the net gain of the bowler this time, one of five wickets that fell to the Durham all-rounder.
Thereafter, the tail lost direction, unable to capitalise on the middle order's riches. It was a similar story in the previous match at Cardiff, albeit on a trickier pitch for batting. England won that one to set up the grand finale here.