There was drama deep in Australia’s run chase on Sunday night when captain Steve Smith was given out caught behind to a contentious catch by England gloveman Jos Buttler.
Chasing 303 to keep the series alive, Smith was dismissed for 45 in the 34th over to leave the hosts 4-181 having edged a Mark Wood delivery behind to wicketkeeper Buttler.
The deflected ball just carried to Buttler, who reeled in the opportunity with his right hand and immediately celebrated the dismissal of the Australian run machine.
But Smith wasn’t sure if the ball carried and neither were the umpires, who referred the decision to the third umpire with a soft signal of out.
After countless replays, split screens and slo motion looks, it was determined Buttler had fairly taken the catch and Smith was on his way.
As he left the field, a visibly frustrated Smith was seen shaking his head, with both the timing of his departure and the tight call potentially playing a part in his irritation.
Former Australia captain Mark Taylor suggested Buttler may have unknowingly used the turf to complete the catch.
"The fact he (Buttler) had to pick it up with the end of his fingers suggests to me he might have had to use a bit of the ground for that ball not to bounce out of his hand," Taylor said in commentary for Channel Nine.
"He may not be aware of that – I'm not trying to suggest he hasn't thought he's caught it.
"I think there may have been a little bit of ground involved."
But ex-England skipper Alec Stewart commended umpire Chris Gaffaney for giving a soft signal of out, a call which likely played a major role in third umpire Kumar Dharmasena's decision.
Sydney Thunder batsman Ben Rohrer was less impressed with the verdict.
Buttler had earlier starred with the bat, scoring an even 100 from 83 balls as England posted 6-302 from 50 overs after being sent in by Smith.
Australia must win in Sydney to keep the Gillette ODI Series alive having suffered defeats in Melbourne and Brisbane.
2017-18 International Fixtures
Gillette ODI Series v England
Australia ODI squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Cameron White, Adam Zampa.
England ODI squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Alex Hales, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
First ODI England won by five wickets at the MCG.
Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Tickets
Third ODI SCG, January 21. Tickets
Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Tickets
Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Tickets
Prime Minister's XI
PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Tickets
Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series
England T20 squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, David Willey, Mark Wood.
First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets
Second T20I Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Tickets
Third T20I Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets
Fourth T20I NZ v England, Wellington, February 14
Fifth T20I NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16
Sixth T20I NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18
Final TBC, Eden Park, February 21