Australia 250 for 2 (Blackwell 91, Nitschke 82, Sthalekar 62*) beat New Zealand 249 for 7 (McGlashan 50, Browne 50, Devine 40) by eight wickets


Shelley Nitschke's career best of 82 set up Australia's series-clinching win © Getty Images
 

Shelley Nitschke picked the right time to hit her highest ODI score to help Australia come back from a 2-1 deficit and win the Rose Bowl in the final match in Lincoln. Nitschke's 82 was part of a 144-run opening stand with Alex Blackwell, who made 91, and laid the platform for back-to-back wins to ensure Australia remained unbeaten in any series this decade.

Saturday's fourth match was not without its alarms as they edged a tight success, but Sunday's contest was a dominant eight-wicket thumping set up by the batsmen. They were left to chase 250 following fifties from New Zealand's Sara McGlashan and Nicola Browne - Sophie Devine also thrashed 40 off 27 balls - and did it with 3.1 overs to spare.

Nitschke and Blackwell remained undaunted during their record opening stand for Australia in New Zealand. It was Blackwell's second fifty in two days, but the first of the series for Nitschke, which came off the back of two half-centuries against England.

After Nitschke fell to Lucy Doolan, having just passed her previous high of 81, Lisa Sthalekar (61 not out) combined with Blackwell to add 80 for the second wicket. Blackwell fell just short of her second ODI hundred before Sthalekar, who reached her second half-century of the weekend, and Karen Rolton added the final six runs.

Though Australia have taken every Rose Bowl since 1998-99, New Zealand have given them tight contests in the past three series, while England also tested them with a 2-2 draw in February. England then went on to beat New Zealand.

Australia showed their fighting spirit with a courageous comeback but they are now world leaders by a nose only. This has been a packed calendar for three of the top four sides and the aim of the games was to see where the teams were at and gain some decent experience for next year's World Cup and proposed Twenty20 World Cup.

On the evidence of the three recent series, the verdict is an open one. There is more cricket to play before 2009 but next year is an increasingly mouth-watering prospect.