CAIRNS: A Steve Smith century helped give retiring Australia skipper Aaron Finch a winning send-off Sunday with a 25-run victory in the final one-day international against New Zealand at Cairns.
Chasing the home team’s 267-5, built on the back of Smith’s masterful 105, the Blacks Caps were all out for 242 in the last over with Mitchell Starc taking 3-60.
It capped a disappointing Chappell-Hadlee series for the visitors. Australia won the opening game by two wickets before a 113-run thrashing of the Black Caps in the second.
“For us to get to 260 after probably our slowest start ever was just amazing,” said Finch, who was out for five in his 146th and last ODI. “Our bowling has been good, everyone has contributed.
“Been a fun ride, I’ve loved every bit of it,” he added of his ODI career.
New Zealand started the chase confidently, racing to 49 before Sean Abbott temped Devon Conway (21) into a drive that Smith caught.
Cameron Green accounted for opener Finn Allen after a breezy 35, caught low by Josh Hazlewood to leave them 57-2 in the 12th over.
Some unplayable bowling starved New Zealand of runs with Alex Carey stumping Tom Latham for 10 off Adam Zampa’s spin and Smith taking a comfortable catch to remove Daryl Mitchell (16) off Hazlewood.
When skipper Kane Williamson was run out for 27 after a comical mix up with Glenn Phillips they were in trouble at 112-5.
But a 61-run partnership between Phillips and Jimmy Neesham (36) then a 51-run stand with Mitchell Santner left them needing 46 from the last five overs and in the hunt.
Phillip’s departure for 47 then Santner for 30 in the space of six balls, both caught near the boundary, ended any chance they had.
“Slightly improved performance but Australia really showed their quality again,” said Williamson.
“We need to learn to adjust to conditions quicker and try to put the teams under pressure when we can.”
Williamson won the toss and sent Australia in and, after a moment’s silence to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Finch was given a guard of honour as he strode to the crease.
He survived a big shout for lbw on one but didn’t last long, bowled by Tim Southee as he attempted a drive from the 13th ball he faced, walking off to a standing ovation.
It ended a career in which he made 5,406 runs at 38.89, hitting 17 centuries to leave him behind only Ricky Ponting (29), David Warner and Mark Waugh (both 18) in the Australian pecking order.
Finch will remain in charge of the Twenty20 side for the World Cup at home next month.
His long-time opening partner Warner was rested with Josh Inglis handed an opportunity that he failed to grab, caught behind off Trent Boult for 10.
It left Australia on 16-2 with a nervy Smith and Marnus Labuschagne facing 22 dot balls as they struggled to settle.
But they persevered and built a crucial 118-run partnership before Labuschagne mis-hit a pull shot and was out for 52, caught by Neesham off Boult.
Undeterred, Smith powered to his 12th ODI century off 127 balls, hitting 10 fours and a six before being bowled by Santner. Alex Carey added a composed unbeaten 42.
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