Rain intervenes with BLACKCAPS victory in sight

Rain ruined the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy cricket decider after a magnificent Martin Guptill innings got the BLACKCAPS to the brink of a famous series victory.

Australia retained the trophy with the series tied 2-2 at the Gabba after game five was washed out with New Zealand just 33 short of their victory target with six overs remaining.

Guptill cracked an unbeaten 64 off 34 balls to boost New Zealand to 123 for six, requiring a rain-reduced 156 off 20 overs after play didn't start until 9.30pm (NZT).

The opener and debut allrounder Brendon Diamanti, 26 not out off 22, added an unbroken 50 for the seventh wicket to leave New Zealand needing fewer than a run per ball.

Drizzle fell throughout New Zealand's chase but it got a lot stronger at the end of the 14th over and umpires Steve Bucknor and Rod Tucker had no option but to call play off.

It was agonising for the tourists who had never won an ODI series or tournament on Australian soil in 28 years of trying.

Playing just his seventh ODI, Guptill hit five fours and three sixes to get his team within reach after they slumped to 73 for six.

After the hosts racked up 168 for four off 22 overs, time restrictions saw New Zealand's target reduced to 156 off 20.

In steady drizzle they made a horror start, with opener Brendon McCullum bowled second ball by paceman Ben Hilfenhaus, playing across the line.

But Guptill got under way with a huge six over square leg off Nathan Bracken, and Peter Fulton whacked Hilfenhaus for two sixes as the pair took 36 off overs two and three.

Fulton played one big shot too many on 22 and was caught, which signalled a collapse of five wickets in 28 balls. A flurry of reckless shots put New Zealand on the back foot as Guptill was getting set.

Key man Ross Taylor received treatment for a hamstring injury before slogging out for four; Grant Elliott was caught behind first ball then Neil Broom was run out by a Ricky Ponting direct hit for nought when Guptill called a short single.

Mills limped to the crease with an achilles tendon injury which placed him in doubt for Sunday's Twenty20 international in Sydney. With McCullum as his runner, Mills could barely move his feet as he was caught one-handed by Michael Hussey for one.

When Guptill and Diamanti joined up, they needed 83 off 12 overs.

Rain fell all day in Brisbane and play was delayed more than five hours before the covers were lifted.

Captain Daniel Vettori won his fourth toss in a row, sent Australia in to bat, and they slumped to 30 for three.

Mills took two for 22 off four before limping off, then it all went slightly awry, thanks to a blistering unbroken 98-run stand between Brad Haddin and Cameron Ferguson.

The in-form Haddin cracked 88 not out off 65 while Ferguson plundered his first ODI half-century, 55 not out off 35.

The pair took 58 off the final four overs from Tim Southee and Iain O'Brien, including the two-over power play.

New Zealand had several fielding blemishes, the most notable from Elliott who missed running out Ferguson for two from close range.

Diamanti found it tough on debut, conceding 25 off two overs.

Vice-captain Michael Clarke was absent for Australia, ruled out with a back injury and replaced by paceman Peter Siddle for his ODI debut.

 

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