England will have to chase down 196 if they are to finish their miserable tour of Australia with a win in the third Twenty20 international in Sydney.
Australia hit 13 sixes, profiting on short straight boundaries, with skipper George Bailey taking 26 from the final over bowled by Jade Dernbach.
Bailey finished unbeaten on 49, from 20 balls, with opener Cameron White adding 41 in a total of 195 for six.
Stuart Broad had slowed Australia in the middle overs, returning three for 30, but Dernbach's forgettable series continued as his last over went: four, six, six, four, four, two.
That meant the right-armer returned figures of no wicket for 49 while in the series he has taken one wicket, with his 11 overs costing 142 runs.
Bailey won the toss and batted at ANZ Stadium - the venue for the 2000 Olympics - and opener Aaron Finch was twice dropped off Tim Bresnan before the England right-armer broke a 48-run stand with White.
Debutant Chris Jordan let a sharp chance burst through his hands at mid-wicket, before Alex Hales spilled a running catch from White over the long-off rope.
Finch responded to his initial reprieve by blasting Ben Stokes' first over for a pair of sixes as Australia ended the powerplay at 41 without loss.
Bresnan finally got Finch, for a 21-ball 30, when the opener floated a miscued pull to Broad at mid-wicket.
Broad brought himself back on and after Glenn Maxwell swiped him for his second six, he drew a false shot for Hales to this time hold on.
Australia sent Ben Cutting in as pinch-hitter and he rewarded their decision with three sixes in a quickfire 50-run stand with White.
Bresnan took the brunt of the damage in an over that cost 18, before Stokes again went for two sixes in an over.
The half-century stand between White and Cutting came up from 27 balls, but England broke it two balls after turning to Joe Root's spin.
Root showed quick reflexes to hold on one-handed to a return catch after Cutting had hit 29 from 16 balls.
That prompted a collapse of four wickets for 21 in 16 balls as England fought back.
Jordan grabbed his first Twenty20 wicket when White feathered a catch down leg for Jos Buttler before Broad struck twice in his final over on tour.
Brad Hodge was out pulling to long leg before Dan Christian edged onto his middle stump without scoring.
Dernbach could then have had Matthew Wade only for Ravi Bopara to put down a steepling catch.
Wade profited by hitting the next ball to the rope and the first from Bresnan's penultimate over for six.
The wicketkeeper was then left to sit back and watch Bailey take over in a final powerful burst.