Australia skipper Aaron Finch rued his side’s inability to score quickly in the first innings as he conceded that his side were 25 runs short, something he felt eventually made the difference. After Australia managed just 142 batting first, New Zealand, powered by Guptill, stormed to a 7-wkt win.
Australia’s hopes of completing a perfect comeback were crushed by New Zealand as, in front of a packed Wellington crowd, the Kiwis demolished a lacklustre visiting side to take home the series 3-2. Winning the toss and batting first, Australia, at one point, were going strong at 74/1 in the 10th over, with both Wade and Finch gliding along at a decent pace, but an underwhelming finish to the innings saw the Kangaroos finish with a below-par total of 142.
In response, a demolition job from Martin Guptill, who struck a whirlwind 46-ball 71, helped New Zealand overpower the Australian bowling as the Kiwis chased down the target in just the 16th over with seven wickets in hand.
Reflecting on the defeat, Aussie skipper Aaron Finch reckoned that his side were too cautious with the bat, particularly after getting off to a bright start, and claimed that 25 or 30 extra runs could have made a significant difference.
“We probably weren't aggressive enough with the bat. We let them dictate terms and didn't get enough runs. Probably was the difference in the game. If one of us kicked on, could have got to 160-170. I thought the pitch played quite well today. It was slightly better today than the other day I thought,” Finch said in the post match presentation.
Australia landed in New Zealand with a near second-string squad, but, after going 2-0 down in the series, showed tremendous character to take the series into a decider. Though they were not able to get the job done, Finch insisted that he was proud of the gradual improvement he saw within the side.
“We have been talking about the gradual improvement from game 1 to game 4, and that was exciting. Would have been great to win the series but NZ are a great team. We just weren't good enough today,” Finch said.
Meanwhile, New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson expressed delight over his side managing to arrest the slide and win the series. Williamson did not enjoy a great series with the bat, racking up scores of 12, 53, 9, 8, and 0, but he insisted that the series was a great learning curve for the side and asserted that the hosts are ecstatic to have pocketed the series against a tough Aussie side.
“Incredibly hard-fought series. Momentum shifts throughout. Outstanding to pick up some of those learnings that we were trying to in the series. It's about the cricket that we want to play. We know how strong a side Australia is, they showed it in the last two games. We just wanted to improve our game,” Williamson said.
“To some extent, we got exposed in the last game on that pitch. So it was nice to bounce back today. When you're playing three games on the same surface, you get a better idea of how to go about things. It's been a great series to be part of and I'd like to congratulate the Australian team for coming to our shores.”
The Kiwis will have a 12-day break, post which they will take on Bangladesh in three ODIs and as many T20Is.