Blackcaps v Australia: Steve Smith century sets New Zealand tough chase in Chappell-Hadlee series dead rubber finale

Australia have given retiring captain Aaron Finch a winning send-off, beating the Blackcaps by 25 runs to complete a sweep of their three-match one-day series at Cairns.

Set 268 runs to avoid the whitewash, New Zealand were dismissed on the penultimate ball of their innings for 242, unable to find a dominant partnership to see them home.

A century to Steve Smith (105) was the biggest contributor to Australia's total, as the hosts posted the highest total of the series.

Steve Smith anchored Australia's innings with his 12th ODI century
Steve Smith anchored Australia's innings with his 12th ODI century. Photo credit: Getty

After winning the toss and opting to bowl first, NZ skipper Kane Williamson saw his decision vindicated early, when Trent Boult dismissed opener Josh Inglis - playing in place of the rested David Warner - for 10.

Finch had announced this match would be his last, confirming his retirement from the 50-over format, but there was no fairytale farewell, after he was bowled by Tim Southee for just five, leaving Australia in trouble at 16/2 in the sixth over.

Their third-wicket pair of Smith and Marnus Labuschagne rescued the innings, adding 118 runs together from 169 balls in difficult batting conditions.

Smith passed 50 for the second time in the series, taking 81 balls with five boundaries, while Labuschagne took just 75 balls with two boundaries.

With the platform set for a big finish, Lockie Ferguson intervened to remove Labuschagne - caught by Boult at mid-on after a mistimed pull shot.

Wicketkeeper Alex Carey (42 not out) joined Smith after Labuschagne's exit, as the pair added a half-century stand in 49 balls.

Smith pressed on to record his 12th ODI century, the first player on either side to reach triple figures in the series, taking 127 balls with 10 boundaries and a single six.

Looking to accelerate, Smith fell attacking Mitchell Santner, running past a straight delivery that hit the top of middle stump.

Boult had a second, when Glenn Maxwell was caught by Santner at deep square leg for 14, returning stunning figures of 2/25 from his full 10-over spell.

An unbroken partnership of 40 runs from 21 balls between Carey and first-game hero Cameron Green (25 not out) took Australia's total past 250, and ensured the Blackcaps would face an asking rate of more than five an over if they were to avoid a 3-0 defeat.

Most of the NZ batting line-up achieved starts, with six reaching 20s, but none kicking on to score half-centuries. Collectively, they hovered around or below the asking rate, without taking the contest by the scruff of the neck. 

With regular opener Martin Guptill spelled, Finn Allen and Devon Conway put on 49 runs for the first wicket. Glenn Phillips led the scoring effort with 47 runs, before he was caught by Sean Abbott, off the bowling of Mitchell Starc.Steve Smith anchored Australia's innings with his 12th ODI century.

Trent Boult celebrates the early wicket of Josh Inglis
Trent Boult celebrates the early wicket of Josh Inglis. Photo credit: Getty

Phillips and Jimmy Neesham compiled 61 runs, before the latter fell for 36 at 173/6, and while Phillips combined with Santner for another 51 runs, the final four wickets fell for 18 runs to complete defeat.

Williamson continued to struggle with the bat, scoring 27 runs off 56 balls to let the air out of the chase, before he was eventually run out.

The result leaves New Zealand will some soul-searching before their next challenge - a T20 World Cup build-up against Pakistan and Bangladesh, followed by the tournament itself in Australia.

Australia 267/5 (Smith 105, Labuschagne 52, Carey 42 not out; Boult 2/25) New Zealand 242 (Phillips 47, Neesham 36, Allen 35; Starc 3/60)

Australia win by 25 runs