|Better than the boos he received at Brisbane - Michael Clarke takes the applause at the SCG [GALLO/GETTTY]
Michael Clarke's Australia signalled their intent ahead of the impending ICC World Cup, beating England by two wickets in a thrilling finale to the sixth one-day international at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday.
Shrugging off the boos that met him at the last one-dayer in Brisbane, Clarke smashed 82 runs off 70 balls as a confident Australia chased down England's highest score, racking up a record 334 for eight to take a 5-1 lead in the series.
Clarke was run out in the second-to-last over to leave Australia requiring 8 runs from 8 balls. Entering the final over needing 6 from 6, a wide and single were followed by John Hastings guiding a Chris Woakes delivery to the boundary to bring up the winning score with four balls to spare.
The total was Australia's best in a chase, eclipsing the 327 against South Africa at Port Elizabeth in 2002.
Jonathan Trott, who struck 102 to help the tourists to their only victory in the series, compiled a superb 137 to drive England to what looked like a winning tally as the home side laboured in the fierce heat of a sweltering day.
Australia, who already held an insurmountable lead in the seven-match series, knew they needed a record score as the heat of the day gave way to a cooler evening.
A Strauss c Hussey b Smith 63
M Prior b Johnson 18
J Trott c & b Tait 137
K Pietersen c Smith b Lee 29
I Bell c Clarke b Tait 45
E Morgan c Tait b Watson 21
P Collingwood not out 7
C Woakes not out 0
Total: (for six wickets, 50 overs) 333
Fall of wickets: 1-41 2-121 3-189 4-293 5-319 6-330
S Watson c Strauss b Yardy 51
B Haddin c Trott b Anderson 20
C Ferguson run out (Prior/Yardy) 46
M Johnson st. Prior b Pietersen 57
M Clarke run out (Trott) 82
C White c Morgan b Finn 20
D Hussey c Prior b Finn 38
S Smith run out (Finn/Anderson) 0
J Hastings not out 7
B Lee not out 2
Total: (for eight wickets, 49.2 overs) 334
Fall of wickets: 1-71 2-87 3-166 4-194 5-224 6-314 7-317 8-327
Shane Watson (51) and Brad Haddin got them off to a blistering start with a stand of 71 in 7.6 overs before the keeper was dismissed for 20, snared by a fine catch by Trott off James Anderson.
Clarke promoted Mitchell Johnson to number four in the order and the all-rounder responded with a knock of 57 that included two huge sixes before being stumped by Matt Prior off Kevin
"We had to take a few risks, I punted a bit on sending Mitch [Johnson] up the order and he played really well,'' Clarke said.
"He strikes the ball as clean as anyone.''
Watson kept up his good form with another half-century while Callum Ferguson produced a bright 46 but it was a sixth-wicket partnership of 90 between David Hussey and Clarke that drove the hosts towards victory.
Clarke compiled his 45th one-day half century, and his second in two matches, while Hussey added 38.
"We're winning, first and foremost, and it's nice to be contributing with the bat,'' Clarke said.
"A few things didn't go to plan with the ball for us, but we're stoked to have chased those runs down.''
England had also started briskly and kept up the pace after Johnson bowled Prior off his pads for 18, bringing Trott to the wicket.
Trott then remained at the crease as captain Andrew Strauss (63), Pietersen (29), Ian Bell (45) and Eoin Morgan (21) made their contributions.
The 29-year-old, who survived an lbw appeal on 82 courtesy of a television review, picked up his third century in one-dayers before being caught and bowled by Shaun Tait from the penultimate ball of the innings.
Australia lead the seven-match series 5-1 heading into the final game at Perth on Sunday.