Pietersen plays the fall guy
England's attempt at a ground record run chase to clinch the NatWest Series got off to a hapless start at the Ageas Bowl thanks to another run-out mix-up between Michael Carberry and Kevin Pietersen.
This time, unlike in the rain-wrecked match at Edgbaston last week, Pietersen was the fall guy as England responded to Australia's 298 all out.
Shane Watson's 143 and Michael Clarke's 76 were dominant innings on a different plane from what surrounded them in another often patchy Australia performance as Ben Stokes finished with a maiden one-day international five-wicket haul.
After Pietersen then went for a first-ball duck, however, England's task was suddenly that much harder.
Pietersen - called through for a sharp single even before he could get his bearings after a loud appeal for lbw from Clint McKay - was unable to scramble his ground at the far end as Fawad Ahmed's throw came in from short fine-leg.
It was to Carberry's credit that he was able to help Joe Root reestablish England's composure under lights until he was second out, lbw to James Faulkner after a DRS overturn from Australia, in a 15-over score of 63 for two.
The hosts were earlier unable to contain Watson and Clarke during a brutal stand of 163 in 22 overs, after Stokes (five for 61) had taken his first two wickets in two balls to reduce the tourists to 48 for three.
Either side of the fourth-wicket partnership, though, Australia were especially unconvincing and ended up with a total which appeared barely par on a quick and true pitch.
Watson hit 12 fours and six sixes from 107 balls, including 26 in boundaries off Root's final over.
He and Clarke had already hit James Tredwell out of the attack again, as at Emirates Old Trafford last week - and it was only when the Australia captain fell to debutant Chris Jordan (three for 51) in an early batting powerplay that England began to drag back control.
Jordan, called in to take the new ball in the injured Steven Finn's absence, made short work of Phil Hughes.
The left-hander was tucked up by extra bounce as he shaped to pull and succeeded only in lobbing a simple catch into the leg-side ring.
Aaron Finch, on the ground where he smashed a Twenty20 world-record 156 last month, was undeterred as he and number three Watson tried to set the tone.
A half-hour break for a passing shower did them no favours, however.
Finch smeared a catch straight to Eoin Morgan at point from Stokes' first ball after the resumption, and Matthew Wade made a golden duck when he gloved an attempted pull behind.
Clarke, cleared to play after all despite another scare with his chronic back injury, therefore joined Watson as Australia eschewed a rebuilding process in favour of all-out counter-attack.
Among a stream of boundaries, 10 fours and a six belonged to Clarke in his run-a-ball stay which eventually foundered on a mistimed big hit at Jordan only as far as mid-off.
Then Root, bowling his off-spin round the wicket in place of Tredwell, got George Bailey cheaply - over-balancing as he missed a sweep and stumped by Jos Buttler.
Watson and Clarke had set an ominous platform, yet Australia were to make only 96 for seven in the scheduled last 20 overs.
It was the returning Stokes who did the most damage, adding two wickets in three balls to his earlier two-in-two.
First, he had Adam Voges caught-behind with some extra bounce outside off-stump; then in the 45th over, Watson edged behind too as he went for another big hit to add to his Root onslaught, and Mitchell Johnson poked back a simple return catch.
In the end, therefore, it was as much as Australia could do to limp towards 300 as Buttler finished with five victims and England's new guard of Stokes, Jordan and the economical Boyd Rankin demonstrated encouraging resilience.