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Smith moves through the gears with century to lift Australia to strong total

50 overs Australia 267 for 5 (Smith 105, Labuschagne 52, Carey 42*) vs New Zealand

There was no fairytale finish with the bat for Aaron Finch but Steven Smith, who will be a contender to be the new ODI captain, compiled a superb hundred – forming a century stand with Marnus Labuschagne – as Australia overcame another tricky start against the new ball to post what felt a formidable total on the previous evidence of this series in Cairns.

Smith’s 12th ODI century came from 127 deliveries, the slowest of his career, but his second fifty took just 46 balls as he shifted gears having batted much like a Test match in the first half of the innings. It was the first century made in this run of six matches against Zimbabwe and New Zealand. In total, the last 20 overs of Australia’s innings brought 161 runs.

Shortly before play started there was a minute’s silence in memory of Queen Elizabeth II and the players wore black armbands.

Finch announced his ODI retirement yesterday and his final innings came early in the game after Australia were asked to bat. He was given a guard of honour to the middle by New Zealand, and offered a warm handshake by Kane Williamson, then his off-the-mark single was greeted by applause from the weekend crowd. But there would not be a grand sign-off, worked over by some classy swing bowling from Tim Southee who brought one back through the gate in a not unfamiliar dismissal for Finch.

By then, Australia were already two down with Josh Inglis, recalled to replace the rested David Warner, edging a half-hearted drive to the keeper against Trent Boult whose outstanding series continued with an opening spell of 6-3-7-1. Smith and Labuschagne focused purely on survival for a significant period: after 10 overs Australia were 19 for 2 – there were three consecutive maidens from overs seven to nine – and after 15 overs it was 29 for 2.

Steadily, though, the pair started to build. Smith pierced the off side with a cover drive off Lockie Ferguson for his first boundary then consecutive fours followed against Jimmy Neesham. Labuschagne did not find the boundary until his 62nd delivery when he threaded Ferguson down to deep third.

Australia’s century came up in the 30th over and also marked a clear shift in tempo, especially from Smith. He launched Southee down the ground to reach fifty from 81 balls and crunched another perfect on drive. Labuschagne brought up his half-century from 75 balls but could not go much further when he spliced a slower ball from Ferguson to mid-on.

Alex Carey played out a maiden against Boult, his fourth of the innings, then added 69 in 10 overs with Smith as the latter dominated. Smith showed his game awareness when he swung Neesham over the leg side for six but had noticed New Zealand had too many fielders outside the ring and was signaling the free hit the moment the ball left his bat.

His innings ended when he gave himself room against Mitchell Santner and was bowled, leading to Glenn Maxwell coming in at No. 6 with six overs remaining. He briefly threatened something destructive, sending Santner’s last ball into the crowd for six, before whipping Boult to deep square leg.

Carey could never quite cut loose but Cameron Green helped add the finishing touches with two sixes in his 12-ball 25.

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Zeeshan Akramhttp://tattlecorner.com
Hi, I am Zeeshan. I am the founder and developer of Tattle Corner. I am an ACCA student and a part-time freelancer.
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