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Steve Smith reached his 12th ODI and then took two crucial holds as Australia demanded quick wickets to stop what was a dangerous early partnership for New Zealand.

Smith’s century had propelled Australia to 267 points in the last ODI match against their trans-Tasmanian rivals, even after the higher order stumbled again.

New Zealand are 5-136 after 32 overs with Glenn Phillips (10) and James Neesham (16) in the crease.

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Kerry O’Keeffe said before New Zealand entered the crease that the battle between Finn Allen and Mitchell Starc could decide the outcome.

“Finn Allen is a field driver,” O’Keeffe said.

“It will be a great game, Starc at 145 against Finn Allen looking to drive his fullness. If Finn Allen wins this battle, New Zealand will be well placed.

Allen was at his aggressive best early on, taking on the Aussie and picking his moment, but he and Devon Conway were dismissed soon after after a strong start.

Conway had 21 points on 26 deliveries before being caught by Smith in what was a “close call” according to Mark Waugh in the commentary.

Mel Jones described it as a “brilliant breakthrough” for the Australians and they made it two soon after as Allen was caught by Josh Hazlewood, finishing on 35 points.

The pair were hosting quite the opener for New Zealand, with Tom Latham and Kane Williamson in action.

But quick wicket-keeper work from Alex Carey on a delivery from Adam Zampa then saw Latham left for just 10 carries as New Zealand’s hopes of chasing Australia’s target grew much more difficult.

Despite losing a few wickets, New Zealand have not backed down and continue to try to take Josh Hazlewood.

But the Australian quickly reacted in the best possible way, securing the wicket of the dangerous Mitchell as the visitors suffered another setback.

New Zealand then dug themselves into an even deeper hole when Phillips and skipper Kane Williamson were caught in a confusion, the latter out for a solid 27.

“What happened here?” asked Ian Smith in commentary.

“It’s just the pressure from the scoreboard,” replied Mark Waugh.

“They jog first, he’s called Phillips, then Williamson stutters and it’s just complete confusion. I think really negative cricket caused this. The skipper has to go and not a good way to go.

Australia is on top. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“It’s very poor cricket overall and it doesn’t show a lot of Kane Williamson emotion but it’s going to be steaming, absolutely steaming as it heads into that tunnel,” Smith said.

“They have a huge job ahead of them now.”


Smith was the hero with bat in hand for Australia, helping the hosts recover from a shaky opener.

Josh Inglis (10) and Aaron Finch (5) got off to an early start as the visitors got off to a flying start, with the first wicket coming in on the third ball of the fourth.

On this occasion, Boult found the outside edge of Inglis’ bat as the Australian flyhalf was caught by Tom Latham.

It didn’t take long for Finch to follow his 146th and final ODI game, being dismissed by Tim Southee.

Smith and Marnus Labuschagne combined brilliantly to stabilize the ship, evoking a partnership of 118 runs on 173 balls, with both hitting half-centuries.

Labuschagne was eventually fired for 52 to bring in Alex Carey while Smith continued to deliver before raising the century before dropping to 105 points.

Australian Aaron Finch walks onto the pitch during his final ODI game. (Photo by Saeed Khan/AFP)Source: AFP

“He had an answer for everything,” Brendon Julian said in a comment.

Carey (42 of 43), Glenn Maxwell (14 of eight) and Cameron Green (25 of 12) also added some crucial final points to boost the final total.

Smith and Labuschagne’s strong partnership was indispensable after Australia’s first order struggled to put points on the board early, with Inglis being the first to go.

Trent Boult was 1-7 from six overs to start, putting New Zealand in a strong position in what O’Keeffe described as a “good change” and finished the sets 2-25 from 10 overs and a savings rate of 2.5.

Lockie Ferguson, who had numbers of 1-56 from 10 overs, was next in line.

O’Keeffe said it was a “roll of the dice” putting Ferguson down and it gave Smith and Labuschagne a chance to strike.

“He’s either going to be a lightning bolt and be an economic striker or he’s going to run away,” O’Keeffe said.

Steve Smith stabilized the ship. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“What’s it going to be like today?” It’s an X factor but it can be wrong.

“They’re looking to hit Lockie Ferguson’s early limits. It’s the exhaust valve. Can they get their hands on Lockie Ferguson?

Smith and Labuschagne, who had initially played the patient game, began to find success against Ferguson in the 15th, picking up eight points including a limit.

The pair continued to tick for Australia, leaving New Zealand in a tricky position trying to break up the duo who managed to steady the ship and combine for 50.

Labuschagne then hit two quick boundaries off Ferguson to continue to mount the pressure on New Zealand who simply couldn’t find an answer to break up the duo.

Australia also targeted fifth bowler James Neesham with great success, with the versatile New Zealander giving up 65 runs from eight overs.

With Smith and Labuschagne establishing a solid partnership, the Australians looked set to be on course for a solid total.

New Zealand finally got a crucial wicket when Labuschagne offered Boult a simple catch with Ferguson breaking the partnership.

Speaking to Fox Cricket after his precious shot, Labuschagne said he was happy to be back to his best form after being dismissed for five and a duck in his two previous outings.

“I was very frustrated with myself the way I played so to come out today and be really calm when we were in a bit of an awkward position I feel like my game was really good today,” said Labuschagne.

Smith’s superb shot, meanwhile, finally ended on the first ball of the 44th after being knocked down by Mitchell Santer.

Injured all-rounder Marcus Stoinis was ruled out on Saturday while David Warner was released from the squad to rest, with Josh Inglis and Cameron Green joining the squad.

Stoinis lasted just six balls with the bat and managed just three overs in the second ODI in Cairns on Thursday which Australia won by 113 runs.

With the three-game series over and Sunday’s final game a dead rubber, he will go for treatment for a low-level side strain.

“Stoinis will undergo rehabilitation treatment in Perth leading up to the India tour,” a three-game T20 series later this month, Cricket Australia said.

Rhythm thrower Nathan Ellis, who played three ODIs, was drafted as a replacement.

The Warner opener was granted time off “given a heavy workload over the next 12 months and securing the series”.

As for New Zealand, Finn Allen replaces Martin Guptill, while Glenn Phillips replaces Michael Bracewell and Ferguson is a late addition in place of Matt Henry.



Aaron Finch (c), Josh Inglis, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Alex Carey (wk), Cameron Green, Glenn Maxwell, Sean Abbott, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood


Finn Allen, Devon Conway, Kane Williamson (c), Tom Latham (wk), Daryl Mitchell, Glenn Phillips, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult

‘Not my style’: Finch pushes back on fairy tale ending and quits Australia ODI captaincy

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