Finch produced one of the most punishing performances seen on the international stage as he clubbed 14 sixes and 11 fours in an innings of 156 from 63 balls.
The right-hander's record-breaking knock, on a night when a Twenty20-best 457 runs were scored, overshadowed Australia's 248 for six - the second-highest Twenty20 score. The size of the task swamped England's batsmen - who still managed their own second-highest score of 209 for six - on the back of Joe Root's unbeaten 90. But a 39-run defeat, in the first of two NatWest Twenty20 internationals, meant Australia also ended their 200-day wait for a competitive international win.
The Australians had not tasted success in any format on this tour, or the previous whitewash trip to India, and England captain Stuart Broad had pledged to keep the foot on the bealeagured tourists.
His decision to send Australia in to bat after winning the toss was, however, quickly undermined.
Finch, who reached all his landmarks with sixes, served his intention by hitting his first ball from Steven Finn over the ropes.
While England did then remove David Warner cheaply, after his bat was unintentionally hurled from his grip as he skied Broad, from there Finch took centre-stage.
"We're disappointed to have lost the game but credit to Australia and how they batted," said Broad. "Finch was excellent. He tried most things, hit sixes and to hit 14 in an innings is quite incredible. Some times you hold your hands up and say you were outplayed - he hit his first ball for six and we knew it was going to be a tough ask."
Australia captain George Bailey could only marvel at Finch's one-man demolition job. "It was pretty extraordinary," he said. "I can only think of Chris Gayle in the Indian Premier League who has done that. We spoke to him about hitting sixes, telling him not to try to hit them 40 rows back. As it was, he hit them 40 rows back!"
Finch said: "It was one of those things, one of those days. The wicket was flat and it made it easier for stroke play. It was nice to get a few early and build on it."