New Zealand 180 for 4 (Phillips 56*, Mitchell 48*, Little 2-33) beat Ireland 174 for 6 (Stirling 40, Adair 37*, Sodhi 2-27) by six wickets
Glenn Phillips produced a match-winning fifty for the second time in the series to help New Zealand overcome a tricky chase of 175 in the third and final T20I against Ireland in Belfast. Phillips used the dimensions of the Stormont ground - wide square on either side - to get 46 out of an unbeaten 56 runs by running, as he hit only one four and a six.
Daryl Mitchell also played a vital hand in New Zealand's six-wicket win, scoring a 32-ball 48 with five fours and a six. He came together with Phillips when New Zealand were 65 for 3 in the eighth over, and their fourth-wicket partnership of 82 tilted the game in the visitors' favour, after which they did not let go of the advantage.
Earlier, Ireland's lower order had impressed to propel their side to 174, with Mark Adair cracking 37* off 15 balls, and Curtis Campher hitting an eight-ball 19*, as the hosts smashed 70 runs in their last five overs.
Their unbroken partnership of 58 in only 23 balls gave Ireland the momentum at the break, but despite an early stranglehold with the ball, they ended up losing their sixth white-ball game against New Zealand in the 2022 home summer, losing both the ODI and the T20I series 3-0.
The Phillips-Mitchell partnership
At 65 for 3, New Zealand were in an uncomfortable position. No team in the 23-T20I history of Belfast had ever successfully chased 140 or more, and with three early wickets gone, it appeared as if Ireland would finally get a win against the visitors.
Finn Allen was the first to go for 14, out to a yorker from Craig Young in the second over. Dane Cleaver soon followed him for 5 when his pull off Josh Little couldn't clear the outfielder in the deep. And Martin Guptill - who offered the full face of the bat to play some glorious lofted shots down the ground - was out for a 19-ball 25 while trying to sweep George Dockrell and only managing a top-edge to short fine leg.
At that stage, New Zealand needed a recovery job, and Phillips and Mitchell provided that by playing with the dimensions of the field. They struck just two boundaries from overs 8 to 13, and played risk-free cricket to bring the equation down to 70 in seven overs.
After that, they feasted on the 15th over from Campher, which went for 20, with ten runs off two balls from Mitchell's bat, and a six from Phillips.
That eased the pressure on New Zealand, reducing the required rate to 8.60 with five overs to go, and Mitchell struck two more fours to move to 48. But he fell to a bouncer from Little in the 17th over, departing after an innings that came at a strike rate of 150.
Phillips carried on to his third T20I fifty, getting there in 39 balls, and stayed unbeaten on 56. To finish things off, James Neesham struck 6, 4, 4, 6 in a six-ball cameo of 23 to finish the game off with six balls to spare.
Adair, Campher fight for Ireland
The extra bounce on a fresh Belfast pitch troubled Ireland captain Andy Balbirnie, who struggled to 10 off 16 balls. Blair Tickner, replacing Lockie Ferguson for the final T20I, dismissed him in the fifth over.
Balbirnie's opening partner Paul Stirling batted in a contrasting fashion, however, clattering three fours and three sixes to score 40 in 29 balls, and kept Ireland going at a run rate of more than 7.5 for the first ten overs.
Stirling was assisted in Ireland's early assault by Lorcan Tucker, who was promoted to No. 3, and they added 46 for the second wicket. Tucker was imperious in his use of the sweep - and the occasional reverse sweep - to hit 28 in 19 balls, but both batters fell in quick succession, which triggered a collapse.
It was Ish Sodhi who started it all, with Stirling edging a length ball with extra bounce to the wicketkeeper. Four balls later, Tucker's attempted leg-side slog off Tickner took a leading edge to third man. From 79 for 1, Ireland lost their next five wickets for only 37 runs, and at 116 for 6 in 16.3 overs, it looked like a promising innings had fizzled out.
But Adair - fresh off a 22-ball 27 in the second T20I - and Campher had other plans. Campher ruined Tickner's figures with 6, 4, 4 in the 18th over. And then Adair tore into Neesham's 19th, taking 16 runs off the first three balls, and hitting another six and four in Jacob Duffy's 20th.
Their partnership of 58 at a run rate of 16.57 meant Ireland's bowlers had something significant to bowl at. However, the hosts were undone by Phillips and Mitchell in the end.