Commonwealth Bank Series, Melbourne: Australia 246-2 (45.2 overs) bt England 242-8 (50 overs) by eight wickets
England's Ashes tour took another turn for the worse when they were crushed in the opening one-dayer by Australia and Kevin Pietersen suffered a rib injury.
Ponting played a series of elegant and powerful drives
Pietersen hit three sixes in his 82, Paul Collingwood made 43 and Andrew Flintoff 47 not out in England's 242-8.
It never looked adequate once Adam Gilchrist blasted 60 and put on 101 with Matthew Hayden (28) in 93 balls.
Ricky Ponting (82no) and Michael Clarke (57no) then took over to seal victory by eight wickets with 4.4 overs left.
It was another chastening experience for the beleagured tourists after their Test whitewash and humbling in Tuesday's Twenty20 game.
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Captain Michael Vaughan provided some early cheer in his first one-day international in 18 months with some beautiful backfoot drives.
But, as so often has been the case on this tour, England were soon subdued by some tight bowling and sharp fielding.
Andrew Strauss and Vaughan edged Nathan Bracken (3-46) to Hayden at first slip, while Ian Bell was dropped first ball by Gilchrist before lofting Mitchell Johnson (2-34) to mid-off.
Skipper Vaughan had an unhappy return to ODI cricket
Collingwood could have been run out by yards by Hayden and Ponting, and took 46 balls to score his first boundary as England plodded to 100 at the end of the 24th over.
Pietersen finally launched an assault to blast three huge sixes off leg-spinner Cameron White.
But his progress was checked when a short ball from Glenn McGrath thudded into his right ribs, and he and Collingwood holed out in the deep to spark another clatter of wickets.
The visitors were in danger of falling well short of a par-total on a good pitch until Flintoff chanced his arms with an entertaining 38-ball cameo.
The big all-rounder had a nightmare with the ball, however: 48 runs were leaked in his six overs, including a mammoth six over long-on from Gilchrist and a staggering 11 wides in his first over.
Flintoff and his fellow seamers proved fodder for the irresistible Gilchrist, who ruthlessly dispatched anything wide or over-pitched - and there was plenty of it - to all parts.
Vaughan cut an exasperated figure as the 100 came up in the 15th over but the introduction of spinners Jamie Dalrymple and Monty Panesar paid almost instant dividends.
Gilchrist edged behind trying to cut and Hayden was stumped after charging down the track to Panesar.
But Ponting crushed any hopes of a revival with a series of elegant and powerful drives.
He received able support from youngster Clarke and, with the boundaries coming at will, victory was achieved in a hurry to the delight of most of the crowd of more than 78,000 at the MCG.
It was England's eighth defeat in 11 matches in Australia and, with their best batsman ruled out of the rest of the series, qualification for the finals of this competition seems a long way off.