New Zealand 241 for 9 (Styris 55) beat Australia 190 (Watson 53, Bond 4-26, Southee 4-36) by 51 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Tim Southee and Shane Bond ensured New Zealand's series finished on a high but with the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy already conceded, it was only a consolation victory for the hosts over Australia. The 51-run triumph might at least give New Zealand some spark heading in to the Test series, which begins up the road at the Basin Reserve on Friday, and it left the ODI scoreline at 3-2.
Ricky Ponting didn't lose a toss for the whole series and again made New Zealand set a target, but this time on a two-paced pitch their 241 for 9 appeared competitive. A double-wicket maiden from Bond early on put Australia on the back foot before Southee ran through the middle-order with 4 for 36 to confirm the win as Australia were dismissed for 190 with 3.5 overs to spare.
Despite the success of the fast men it was the offspinner Nathan McCullum who picked up the most important wicket, which was also his first in ODIs. Shane Watson was doing his best to guide Australia's chase despite watching wickets fall around him, and he had worked his way to 53 when he chipped McCullum to midwicket, to leave Australia vulnerable at 96 for 5.
A typically resistant 46 from Michael Hussey kept Australia in the contest before Southee delivered a perfect straight yorker that cannoned into the stumps when Hussey tried to lap sweep and take advantage of the batting Powerplay. James Hopes made 40 in vain, before Bond returned to grab the final two wickets to finish with 4 for 26.
The batsmen found it a difficult surface on which to perfect their timing and Australia's chase stagnated through the middle overs. Southee picked up two important breakthroughs when Cameron White (6 from 21 balls) failed to clear mid-off and Adam Voges (5 off 17) was given caught behind trying to run the ball fine, although Hot Spot indicated there was no edge.
The visitors were under pressure from the moment Bond grabbed two in two balls during the seventh over. Brad Haddin was on 17 when he pulled, was surprised by the pace and bounce, and top edged a catch to square leg. The next delivery was a superb bouncer, fast and straight, and glanced off Ponting's helmet and through to the wicketkeeper. Ponting had dropped his hands and the ball was nowhere near his gloves, and he was incredulous when Gary Baxter's verdict of out was revealed.
White survived the hat-trick ball, but there wasn't much else for Australia to celebrate. They had let New Zealand off the hook in the later stages of the first innings, after the hosts had stumbled to 32 for 3. New Zealand had failed to bat out their 50 overs in the past three matches and it looked set to happen again, despite a fighting 55 from Scott Styris.
Poor judgment from senior players threatened to derail their recovery effort. The vice-captain Ross Taylor been susceptible to undisciplined acts when tied down all series and again he fell to a premeditated slog, looking to lift his rate when he had 30 from 55 balls. Taylor walked at Watson to pull straight to the man at deep midwicket, and equally frustrating was the way Vettori departed.
Vettori was batting at No. 6 and had wangled his way to 28 when he backed away to Doug Bollinger and lost his off stump while attempting an airy drive through the off side. It was an ill-thought-out stroke as Styris had gone eight balls earlier and at five-down in the 33rd over, stability was required.
No member of Australia's attack was dominant and the first seven breakthroughs came from a run-out and one to each of the six bowlers used. Both openers fell in the fifth over, Brendon McCullum for 1 from 13 deliveries when he backed away and was caught at cover, trying to force Clint McKay through the off side, and Martin Guptill (7) found short by a Hopes direct-hit.
Shanan Stewart, who made 6, joined them in the dressing room when he drove at Johnson and a regulation edge went through to Haddin. At three down in the eighth over, Australia fancied their chances of skittling New Zealand but the lower order proved strong-willed.
Daryl Tuffey made an extremely useful 36, bettering his career-best for the second consecutive match, and he found the middle of the bat regularly. That the No. 9 Tuffey arrived at the crease with 11 overs to go, and stayed until the last ball of the 50th over, was a key part of New Zealand's success. Tuffey, Bond and the Man of the Match Southee, can all sleep well knowing they contributed to a morale-boosting win.