Australia require a mammoth 343 to win the second ODI in Cardiff after Jason Roy's century helped England reach 8-342 after their 50 overs.
Roy clubbed a fine 120 from 108 balls on a difficult day for an under-strength Australia attack in the Welsh capital.
For the first time ever in an ODI, the first five partnerships of an innings all surpassed 50 with Jos Buttler standing in as skipper for Eoin Morgan who experienced a back spasm just before the match, unbeaten on 91 from just 70 deliveries.
Buttler's innings was highlighted by two audacious ramp shots for successive sixes off the bowling of Jhye Richardson.
Richardson was named in the side for Billy Stanlake, who had a toe injury after Tim Paine won the toss and elected to bowl in overcast conditions, with D'Arcy Short making his debut and Michael Neser left out of the side.
Jonny Bairstow and Roy got the hosts off to a buccaneering start before the in-form opener departed for 42 when Kane Richardson found the edge of his bat and Paine took a low catch.
Alex Hales was the next man to depart when he was bowled for 28, beaten for pace by Jhye RIchardson.
Marcus Stoinis got his name in the wicket-taking column when Short took a fantastic diving catch to dismiss Joe Root for 22 before Roy brought up his century off Ashton Agar's bowling.
AJ Tye brought Roy's innings to a close when a blood-stained Paine took a superb diving catch, having being hit in the face minutes earlier when a slower delivery from the West Australian bounced off the turf and struck him on the nose.
Sam Billings (11), Moeen Ali (6), David Willey (7) and Liam Plunkett (1) didn't do any further damage as the bowlers took the pace of the ball to good effect and stem the tide of runs in the latter overs.
However, Buttler found the boundary from the final two balls of the innings to set up an imposing total.
The Richardsons grabbed two wickets apiece and Tye finished with unflattering figures of 2-81 from nine overs.