Australia secure Chappell-Hadlee Trophy
Australia 202 for 4 (White 50*, Ponting 50) beat New Zealand 238 (McCullum 61, Hauritz 3-46) by 6 wickets (D/L method)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The Chappell-Hadlee Trophy has remained in Australian hands after Ricky Ponting and Cameron White led their team to a six-wicket win that secured the series 3-1. Rain played some part in the outcome but it was mostly New Zealand's watered-down batting display that left their fans feeling gloomy and consigned Saturday's fifth match in Wellington to dead-rubber status.
The hosts had only themselves to blame for failing to bat out their overs and after rain reduced the target from 239 off 50 overs to 200 from 34 overs, Australia found their way home with 17 balls to spare. Cameron White and Michael Hussey completed the chase, which was set up by Ponting and Shane Watson, and despite a couple of quick wickets in the middle from Daniel Vettori the visitors were on track for most of the evening.
The Man of the Match, White was cool with an unbeaten 50 and Hussey finished on 28, easing any tension the Australians felt when Adam Voges (34) was caught at midwicket with 50 runs still required. Shane Bond had kicked things off well for New Zealand with Brad Haddin caught at slip in the first over but Ponting and Watson cruised from there.
Ponting was powerful with back-foot drives and pulls and, although he should have been lbw for 19, he reached his fifty from 34 balls before being trapped in front by Vettori from his next delivery. Watson (32) was also lbw to Vettori, hurried by an arm ball, but in the reduced contest New Zealand needed a bigger run of wickets to have a good chance.
It was always going to be tough for New Zealand to defend their total after they were sent in and failed to bat out their overs for the second consecutive match. They enjoyed a quick start thanks to Brendon McCullum and an entertaining finish courtesy of some clean hitting from Daryl Tuffey but in between they struggled desperately and for 22 overs through the middle of the innings, failed to strike a boundary.
Failing to bat out your overs is considered a cardinal sin in one-day cricket and New Zealand will plead for forgiveness after the innings ended with a possible 35 balls to spare. Australia bowled well but wickets also were thrown away; Shanan Stewart and Ross Taylor were caught on the boundary early in their innings and the openers McCullum and Martin Guptill gave soft catches to the infield.
Nathan Hauritz picked up three wickets and there were two each to Watson, James Hopes and Mitchell Johnson as the early and late bursts from New Zealand bookended a painful grind. When James Franklin (10) was unluckily bowled off his leg attempting a sweep off Hauritz, they were 177 for 7 and a sub-200 total was on the cards.
Tuffey ensured that didn't happen as he launched three sixes in a row off Hauritz, over square leg, midwicket and straight down the ground, in an over that cost 22. It was a remarkable explosion from a man who in 87 previous ODIs had only hit one six, and he also cleared the boundary off Watson and finished with his highest one-day international score of 34.
His mauling of Hauritz encouraged New Zealand to take the batting Powerplay but when Gareth Hopkins edged behind off Watson from the first ball of it, they were immediately back in trouble. Tuffey was snared by a brilliant return catch from Ryan Harris and 19 from nine deliveries off Shane Bond helped until he was caught at mid-on off Johnson and the innings was over.
It was a deeply disappointing outcome for New Zealand following a promising start in which McCullum and Guptill - Peter Ingram was dropped for this match - raced to 63 for 0 in the eighth over. McCullum was quick to put Australia on the back foot and early on pulled Harris for a flat six that landed in the Eden Park construction area.
He followed with a six flicked over square leg off a free-hit from Doug Bollinger, whose first three overs leaked 30, while at the other end Guptill found boundary with ease. Guptill was especially strong through and over cover as the Australians erred in line and gave him too much width.
However, the area brought Guptill's downfall when for the second time in the series he was caught at short cover, this time for 30 from 22 balls off Watson. The dismissal showed a lack of judgment from Guptill, who had just struck two boundaries and had no need to risk trying to drive wide of the catcher.
McCullum continued to attack and struck sixes over square leg and cover off Johnson and Watson. But Taylor was less fluent and had eased to 15 from 37 deliveries when he attempted to force his way out of the rut by targeting the short square-leg boundary with a flick off Hopes only to be well caught by Hussey running around from deep midwicket.
That classy piece of fielding sparked Australia and they collected five wickets in 11 overs. The debutant Stewart went too hard too soon and was caught at long-on off Hauritz for 4, before the key wicket of McCullum, who chipped Hauritz tamely to short midwicket for 61. A procession of wickets followed and New Zealand found it too difficult to climb back in to the game.
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo