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.
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.