Australia 8 for 264 (Warner 156, Boult 3-49) beat New Zealand 147 (Guptill 34, Starc 3-34) by 117 runs
Different crowd, different context, similar result. Australia returned to the scene of their 2015 World Cup final hiding of New Zealand and duly inflicted another enormous defeat on the visitors, completing the first clean sweep of a Chappell-Hadlee series in a decade, in front of a far smaller gathering than last time.
Only 20,591 spectators were on hand to see the heavy lifting done by the vice-captain David Warner, who soared to his second ODI hundred in as many innings and seventh of the year, in conditions far more challenging than those prepared for either of the first two matches of the series.
Warner’s innings was all the more laudable for the fact that most batsmen found scoring difficult on a slow and capricious pitch. After his 156, the next best score on either side was a doughty supporting hand of 37 by Travis Head, part of the only century stand of the match.
On a chilly December day in Melbourne, the visitors had bowled with accuracy to some nifty plans devised by the captain Kane Williamson, notably catching out Aaron Finch and Steven Smith with a fielder placed at a shortish square leg. However Warner endured through the difficult passages and accelerated during a rearguard stand with Head, reaching his century, then going on to guide the Australians to a total that proved well beyond New Zealand.
Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood both proved fiendishly difficult to counter in the evening, while Head made a further contribution to the match with the wickets of Martin Guptill and BJ Watling. James Faulkner chimed in with the vital dismissal of Williamson. The failure of New Zealand’s batsmen to make any impression on the scoreboard undermined some decent work earlier in the day by their bowlers, Warner’s excellence excepted.
Trent Boult performed nicely for New Zealand, while the recalled Lockie Ferguson again demonstrated the high pace he is able to generate from a fast-arm action. It was Ferguson who came closest to dismissing Warner early on, but Henry Nicholls was unable to cling onto a difficult, diving outfield chance when the opener was on 18.
The hosts had gone in with an unchanged team for the third match, retaining their fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins while also continuing to ignore the all-round skills of Glenn Maxwell. New Zealand had to leave out Jimmy Neesham due to continued pain in the arm that was struck by Starc in Canberra, while also recalling Ferguson at the expense of Matt Henry.
While the new ball did not swing a great deal, Boult bowled the ideal lines to coax Finch and Smith into false strokes towards the leg side that were snapped up by Nicholls. Smith’s wicket was a particular source of satisfaction after his tall scores in the first two matches of the series.
George Bailey, again showcasing his backside-to-the-bowler stance, hung around to add 62 with Warner, but when his dismissal by Colin de Grandhomme was swiftly followed by Mitchell Marsh being bowled off bat and body, the Australians were in difficult straits.
Warner was able to find a useful ally in Head, who struggled with timing but was at least able to rotate the strike and form a partnership, ultimately worth 105. That stand gave the hosts something to work with, and Warner was able to push on further once he passed three figures, surging beyond 150 and only being dismissed via a run out on the final ball of the innings.
Matthew Wade and James Faulkner had provided some support at the back end of the innings, ensuring Australia were able to set New Zealand a total of good value on a sluggish pitch and expansive outfield. Guptill and Tom Latham made a fair start to the chase, reaching 44 in good time before Pat Cummins coaxed Latham into granting another catch to square leg, this time patrolled by Faulkner.
Williamson was pinned in front of the stumps by Faulkner from around the wicket, and two overs later Guptill cracked Head’s very first ball into the outstretched hands of Bailey at cover. Nicholls was comprehensively yorked by Starc, and when Watling was found to be lbw to Head on a DRS review the game was all but up.
Smith ended the match with another ripping catch, this time diving to his right at slip. While a vast match and series victory over a New Zealand side lacking both confidence and sharpness, this was no World Cup final. By their restrained celebrations it was clear that both Australian players and spectators alike were well aware of this fact.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig