Daniel Vettori, the New Zealand captain, blamed his side's poor batting performance for the defeat in the third ODI at Hamilton, which gave Australia 2-1 lead in the five-match series.

"We put a bit too much pressure on ourselves with losing wickets and I suppose, put too much pressure on Scott [Styris] and Gareth [Hopkins] to pick up the slack then be aggressive near the end," Vettori said. "It was a total that was 40 or 50 runs short and we couldn't put any pressure on Australia because of it."

New Zealand reached 146 for the loss of five wickets, in the 30th over, before Styris and Hopkins recovered partially through a 67-run stand, but the hosts could not last the full duration and were bowled out for 245 in the 47th over. Four of their top five batsmen got off to starts but did not take on the responsibility to bat long, a trait that concerned Vettori.

"I suppose it's just taking ownership of your innings and realising that 20s and 30s and even 50s and 60s aren't good enough against Australia. You need guys to kick on. You need those big partnerships and you can't consistently lose wickets," Vettori said.

New Zealand struggled on the field, with two first-choice seamers, Daryl Tuffey and James Franklin, missing in action. Shane Bond had to leave the field later in the day, after picking a sore thumb while trying to take a tough return catch from centurion Brad Haddin. Vettori admitted that his side was a bowler short, and struggled as a result.

"It was one bowler too few but you still need guys to step up and bowl well. At times we did a really good job with the ball and at times we were poor," Vettori said.

The injuries forced a recall for Michael Mason, after nearly two years in the international wilderness. He was attacked early by Haddin, but was better in his second spell where he dismissed Ricky Ponting.

"I was pleased with the way Michael Mason came back because it was a pretty tough start but he finished pretty well," Vettori said.

Ponting, the Australia captain, hailed his side's clinical six-wicket win as their best performance yet in the series. "It was a very convincing win tonight. To take our Powerplay as late as we did and we really cantered across the line from about 30 overs onwards. We did it pretty easy.

"We've been looking for this performance the entire series and we've played our best game to date. The momentum, if there is any to be taken out of this game, is obviously with us. If we start strongly on Thursday hopefully the momentum continues for us there," Ponting said.

Brad Haddin's attacking ton played a major part in Australia's easy win and Ponting acknowledged that there was a conscious effort among the top-order batsmen to score big.

"It's what we've been asking our top order to deliver. I said to the boys this morning I know that if someone in our top order gets 80 plus or 100 that we're going to get well over 300 every time we bat with the nature of these grounds over here," Ponting said.

"Luckily we were chasing 240. Our bowlers did a great job there taking wickets consistently through the New Zealand batting innings. It was a more commanding performance and Brad's obviously played a massive role in us winning tonight."