SYDNEY // Australia kept the Chappell-Hadlee series alive when they beat New Zealand in the third one-day international at the SCG. Set 302 to win their third consecutive match against Australia, thanks mainly to a 135 first-wicket stand between Brad Haddin (109) and Michael Clarke (64), the Kiwis looked dead and buried when they slumped to 183-7 in the 37th over.
However, a frenetic 69-run partnership between Grant Elliott (115) and Brendon McCullum (36), batting with a shoulder injury, threatened to steal the match. Elliott's dismissal in the 45th over ended the New Zealand fightback, allowing a relieved Australia to claim a desperately-needed 32-run victory after five successive defeats. The Kiwis, bowled out for 269 in the 48th over, lead the series 2-1 heading into game four in Adelaide tomorrow.
But the visitors are unlikely to have the services of keeper-batsman McCullum, who was struck by a rising delivery from Kyle Mills while standing up to the stumps. He played on in pain and will undergo scans today. McCullum's injury added to a testing night for the Kiwis, who struggled to keep pace with Australia for most of the match after being asked to bat. Haddin hit eight fours and three sixes in his entertaining 114-ball stay to give the hosts a chance of reviving the series after losing the opening two matches. A bright 62-run partnership between Callum Ferguson (28 off 23 balls) and Michael Hussey (51 off 32) late in the innings ensured Australia topped the 300-run mark.
After sliding to 16-2 in the sixth over, Elliott and Peter Fulton (40) repaired some of the damage with a stand of 80. But Fulton's departure just before the halfway mark put the visitors behind the required run rate of eight per over as wickets fell at regular intervals. Elliott and McCullum, batting at No 9 due to his injury, gave Australia a massive scare before James Hopes (2-49) removed Elliott, caught at deep midwicket by Michael Hussey. McCullum was out soon after to extinguish any thought of a comeback.
* PA Sport