New Zealand v Australia, 3rd ODI, Hamilton February 8, 2016

New Zealand defend 246 on McCullum's ODI farewell

New Zealand 246 (Guptill 59, Elliott 50, M Marsh 3-34) beat Australia 191 (Khawaja 44, Henry 3-60) by 55 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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'Losing wickets in clusters cost Australia the series'

One of Brendon McCullum's fondest ODI memories was a match in Hamilton in 2007 when he helped New Zealand run down an Australian tally of 346 to complete a Chappell-Hadlee sweep. This time around McCullum's team-mates honoured him with a rousing defence of 246 at Seddon Park, ensuring their captain retired from ODI matches with the trophy in his keeping.

Steven Smith's Australian side had been happy to restrict the hosts via a collapse of six wickets for 23 after McCullum, Martin Guptill and Grant Elliott all made starts, a meagre target to defend on the small outfield of Seddon Park. However a slowing pitch and excellent spells by Doug Bracewell, Ish Sodhi, Corey Anderson and Matt Henry combined with a moment's controversy to carry New Zealand home.

The visitors were still a chance of chasing down the target when an in-form Mitchell Marsh jammed a Henry delivery back down the pitch. New Zealand appealed only half-heartedly but the umpires were moved to refer after a big screen replay showed the ball had hit boot rather than ground. Marsh was livid at his dismissal, and Australia may yet query the protocol that resulted in his exit.

Nevertheless, the night was New Zealand's, and it was an important win in the context of a tour that now moves into two Test matches. Smith's run of outs is significant for the Australians, who lost their fifth consecutive match in Darren Lehmann's absence - having recovered from DVT, he was in Wellington for the previous ODI but remained there with the Test players.

Josh Hazlewood, John Hastings, Scott Boland, Mitchell Marsh and the legspinner Adam Zampa kept New Zealand in check before making life difficult for a succession of new batsmen at the crease later in the innings. New Zealand's total was the smallest the Australians had managed to restrict an opponent to in the eight ODI matches they have played this year.

Usman Khawaja and David Warner began as if intent upon chasing the target down inside 25 overs, a flurry of boundaries and sixes providing a decidedly rapid start. However the difficulties to be tackled later were foreshadowed when Warner was out to a ball that stopped on him, the catch shovelled to cover.

Khawaja was to follow without making a match-shaping score, victim of an excellent spell by Bracewell in which the ball that dismissed him was actually one of the bowler's looser offerings. These wickets left the match in the hands of Australia's middle order, which apart from Marsh had not functioned at all this series.

Sodhi had not played until this night, but it was his excellent spell that accounted for Smith and the out of sorts Glenn Maxwell. Smith was lbw sweeping, before Maxwell threw his hands at a legbreak and was pouched at slip by McCullum, who had smartly left himself there.

At 94 for 4 the match was now firmly in New Zealand's hands, requiring an outstanding partnership of greater dimensions than that between Marsh and John Hastings in Wellington. Through a combination of fine bowling and good fortune, New Zealand did not allow that to happen. Bailey and Marsh added 59 before the former was beaten by a Henry break-back for the second time in as many matches, this time dragging on.

Ten runs later the moment of the match arrived when Marsh squeezed Henry back to to the bowler off bat, boot and, most presumed, the ground. Henry's appeal was half-hearted, the umpires barely interested. However a replay on the big screen showed that things were not as clear cut as that, and after some discussion Ian Gould referred the decision to the TV umpire S Ravi.

To the visible disgust of Marsh and bewilderment of Smith, Ravi then did the logical thing based on the evidence and gave the allrounder out caught. Whether he should even have been in a position to make that decision was another matter altogether. Either way, the wicket left Australia with an awful lot to do, and after Matthew Wade's pull shot got him out for the second match in a row, the rest was largely predictable.

McCullum enjoyed a last international catch, Hazlewood and Boland tried their luck, and Henry Nicholls got the final wicket with a direct hit. That sealed a triumphant night in Hamilton for McCullum, and also for the team he has done so much to mould over the past decade and more. The performance he drew out of an understrength bowling line-up was testament to his ingenuity.

New Zealand had left out Trent Boult due to illness, while Mitchell Santner was also missing due to a foot ailment ahead of the Test matches. Their places were taken by Bracewell and Sodhi. Perhaps with those changes in mind, McCullum admitted at the toss that he also would have bowled first.

So it was that McCullum's final ODI innings became the first act of the day. Having shown respect to his first three balls from Hazlewood, he tucked into John Hastings with a trio of boundaries - the first back over the bowler's head, the second tugged through midwicket and the third punched neatly through cover.

There had been much interest in whether McCullum could reach 200 ODI sixes in this innings, and it was to be Scott Boland who he sized up as the target. Twice McCullum lofted Boland beyond the rope at long-off, before advancing to drop-kick a length delivery high and long over square leg.

That milestone reached, McCullum stayed only four more balls and one more boundary. On 47 he skied Mitchell Marsh and looked on as Hastings took a furtive glance at a converging Glenn Maxwell before taking a very good catch. An appropriate ovation rang out around the ground.

What followed was somewhat anti-climactic, as Steven Smith marshalled his bowlers and fielders to a stout containing effort on a small ground. Zampa again delivered his legbreaks with skill and common sense, conceding only 4.5 runs per over while also coaxing Guptill into a skied paddle sweep to shortish fine leg.

Kane Williamson had been tied down before dragging Boland on, and Henry Nicholls lured into edging a Hazlewood ball moving across him that Smith held sharply at slip. Corey Anderson also found it hard to score in his usually supercharged manner, and was well held by Usman Khawaja on the long-on boundary from one of his better-timed strokes.

Marsh, Boland, Hastings and Hazlewood all made good use of cutters on the dry surface, ushering a rush of wickets as the ball aged. From 223 for 4 the hosts declined to 246 all out, a target Australia fancied themselves to chase until the game took a turn towards McCullum in the Seddon Park night.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

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