Australia wraps up series

The touring Australians have won the 3rd ODI in Auckland by 86 runs sealing the series with 2 matches to spare. It was a must-win match for the Kiwis. However, they were outplayed by the Aussies thanks to their solid performance with both the bat and ball.

After winning the toss, Ponting elected to bat on a slow Eden Park pitch. Simon Katich, who was filling in at the top of the order for the injured Matthew Hayden, played aggressively early on, outscoring Gilchrist easily. In fact, the usually aggressive Gilchrist moved along at snails pace and was eventually out to Cairns in the 11th over for an uncharacteristic 18 off 36 balls. However, Katich had already helped the score along to 68.

Ponting strode to the crease and quickly found himself back in the sheds, run out by Papps for only 11. Three more wickets were to follow in an all too familiar Australian ODI mid-innings collapse. Martyn was LBW to Vettori for 1 and Symonds, after hitting a quick-fire 21 off 27 balls, was dismissed by Mills to leave the score on 4/117 in the 24th over. Katich reached his 2nd ODI fifty, but was trapped LBW by Vettori for 58, an innings which included 9 fours.

The tourists now found themselves in dire straits after collapsing to 5/128, it seemed as though New Zealand was about to get back into the series. However, the two Micheals, Clarke and Hussey, had other ideas about that. The pair began to accelerate the strike-rate and managed to pull their side out of a real hole with a 136-run partnership. Clarke made 71 not out off 75 balls and Hussey posted his first ever ODI fifty, walking off the field with 65 off 73 balls.

The Aussies had managed to post a respectable total of 5/264. Vettori was the pick of the Kiwi bowlers, ending up with figures of 2/31 off his 10 overs.

The home side didn’t get off to the best off starts as Brett Lee picked up the wicket of Fleming in just his second over, dismissing him for only 1. The next man in, Micheal Papps, got more than he bargained for as he wore two fierce Brett Lee bouncers on the head and ended up having to retire hurt. After copping the first one, he stood firm and refused to leave the field, but the second gave him a nasty bump on the head which needed to be checked up at the hospital.

Nathan Astle and Hamish Marshall managed to calm things down for a while before Astle was out caught behind to Kasprowicz for 27, leaving the score on 2/45 off 14.2 overs, which was virtually 3/45 due to Papps’ retirement.

McMillan came to the crease and slowly began to build a partnership with Marshall, before he was dismissed by Symonds for 26 with the score on 114. Symonds, arguably the best fieldsman in the world, then ran out both Hamish and James Marshall for 55 and 14 respectively and Cairns was gone soon after, out to Lee for 12. The next man in, Vettori, was in for just 1 ball, out caught behind to Brad Hogg for a golden duck.

Hogg then cleaned up the rest of the tail to end the Kiwi innings on 178, a good 86 runs shy of their target. After just 3 matches, the Australians had demolished the home side and wrapped up the series 3-0. New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming commented, “We just weren’t good enough. In all departments we were outplayed, they never let us gain any momentum.”

Lee was once again the pick of the bowlers with 2/25 off 7 overs and Hogg chipped in with 3 late wickets. Clarke ended up with Man of the Match honours for his innings of 71 not out.

The series now heads down to Wellington, where the Kiwis will be hoping to salvage some pride while the Australians will be keen to extend their already unassailable lead.

Australia 5/264: Clarke 71*, Hussey 65*, Katich 58, Vettori 2/31

New Zealand 178: H Marshall 55, Hogg 3/45, Lee 2/25

Australia wins by 86 runs

MOTM: Micheal Clarke (71*)

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