CAIRNS, Australia (AP) — Aaron Finch guided Australia to a series sweep over top-ranked New Zealand, sealed with a 25-run victory on Sunday, in his farewell to one-day international cricket.
Finch failed with the bat in his last ODI but Steve Smith posted 105 and shared a century stand with Marnus Labuschagne (52) to guide Australia from 16-2 in the sixth over to a competitive total of 267-5 after being sent in to bat.
New Zealand was dismissed for 242 in reply with left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc taking three wickets, including the vital dismissal of Glenn Phillips (47) that ended a 51-run seventh-wicket stand and tilted the outcome entirely in Australia’s favor.
New Zealand lost its last four wickets for 18 runs.
“The partnership between Steve and Marnus was exceptional,” Finch said. “That innings from Steve was a great knock. And our bowlers were fantastic all the way through.”
Finch averaged almost 40 in 146 one-day internationals dating back to 2013 and was captain for the last four years, posting 17 centuries along the way.
“It’s been a fun ride,” he said. “I’ve loved every minute of it.”
Finch announced ahead of the third ODI against New Zealand that it would be his last in the format, although he’s staying on as skipper of the defending champion Australian team for the Twenty20 World Cup starting next month. He’ll lead the T20 squad to India next week for a quick tour.
The 35-year-old Finch’s recent run of poor ODI form with the bat continued when he was dismissed for five, meaning his last eight innings netted just 31 runs.
But his captaincy remained astute, with his bowling changes and field positioning going a long way toward helping Australia to victory.
Just when New Zealand appeared to be getting the ascendency on Sunday, Finch reintroduced allrounder Cameron Green (2-25) in the 38th over and it immediately netted the wicket of Jimmy Neesham (36) to end a 61-run sixth-wicket partnership.
Batters struggled during the series on slow pitches, with no New Zealand batters posting a half-century and Australia’s top-order struggling throughout.
Smith was voted player of the match after scoring his first ODI century in almost two years.
Smith and Labuschagne combined for a 122-run stand that steadied the innings and another solid contribution from Alex Carey (42 not out) and a late quickfire cameo by Green, who scored an unbeaten 25 from 12 balls, lifted the target well beyond 250.
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