Smith century sends Finch off in style as Australia secure series whitewash over Black Caps

By Sports Desk September 11, 2022

Steve Smith score a brilliant century as Australia sent ODI captain Aaron Finch off in style with a 25-run win over New Zealand in the third and final match of their series.

Finch had announced prior to the game this would be his final ODI and, though he made just five in Cairns, team-mate Smith excelled, his 105 from 131 balls helping the hosts to 267-5 – Marnus Labuschagne (52) adding a valuable half-century as Australia sealed a series whitewash.

Several in New Zealand's line-up made starts but failed to build big totals, Glenn Phillips' middle-order partnerships with Jimmy Neesham and Mitchell Santner not proving enough to make the chase.

Finch was given a guard of honour and a handshake with opposite number Kane Williamson after a minute's silence was held as a mark of respect following the death of the Queen.

Some textbook swing bowling from Tim Southee meant there was no dream send-off for Finch, but Smith, a contender to be the new ODI captain, led the way.

His century off 126 was the slowest of his career, though his second fifty runs came off only 46.

He and Labuschagne focused mostly on surviving, but Alex Carey (42) added 69 with Smith in 10 overs to boost the run rate, before the latter was bowled by Santner.

New Zealand made 49 for the opening wicket before Devon Conway was caught by Smith at backward point and the tourists struggled to score runs freely, tumbling to 112-5.

Phillips' work with Neesham and Santner made sure Australia had to push hard for their win but ultimately New Zealand fell short, Mitchell Starc finishing 3-60 to wrap up the series.

Spectacular Smith

It was not just Smith's work with the bat that proved so influential. He also made important catches from Conway, Mitchell and Neesham to knock New Zealand off their stride.

While Santner was able to keep the pace going, his dismissal and Phillips' exit brought an end to any hopes of a turnaround.

Finch farewell

After 145 ODI caps, Finch's illustrious spell in the format will come to an end but it was unfortunate he could not go out with a bang. The home supporters gave him the send-off he deserves, however, and he issued his backing to Smith to succeed him prior to Sunday's final match.

Finch departs having guided Australia to a 10th straight ODI win on home turf against New Zealand, a run that dates back to 2009. Indeed, they have now won their last five matches against their neighbours in the format (home or away), which matches a winning streak they enjoyed against the Black Caps between November 2006 and February 2007.

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