Match Report | Ashes - 1st T20I | Australia vs England | Tahlia McGrath’s all-round brilliance guides Australia to a 9-wicket victory over England
Written By: Ritwika Dhar
Picture Courtesy: Getty Images
The Ashes kicked off with the shortest format of the game at the Adelaide Oval, where no Women’s T20I game has been held before. Before we dive into a deeper analysis of the opening game, let’s have a look at some of the important changes and omissions that took place –
Leg-spinner Alana King made her debut. She was picked in the squad as a replacement of Georgia Wareham and Sophie Molineux, who got injured during the WBBL.
Hard-hitting all-rounder Grace Harris was added to the Australian squad as a replacement for Beth Mooney, who suffered a jaw injury at training earlier this week.
Harris was included in the XI in place straight away in place of veteran Ellyse Perry. During the match, Australia's head coach Matthew Mott gave the reason behind the exclusion, “Once it was clear that there was no space for Ellyse Perry in the top-order of Australia’s T20I setup, it came down to her strike rate. And that’s how Grace Harris was picked, leaving Perry out.”
Opening batters of England gave them a solid start
After winning the toss, Australian captain Meg Lanning opted to field first. Experienced campaigners Jonassen and Schutt made their comeback in the side after playing their last game in April 2021. But their bowling looked clueless in front of the rampant English openers Danni Wyatt and Tammy Beaumont. It was the debutant Alana King who gave the breakthrough as Beaumont departed for 30 (24). Both Wyatt and Beaumont made an opening partnership of 82. Wyatt continued her carnage and stitched another 50-runs partnership with Nat Sciver.
One of the welcome-moves from Cricket Australia was that DRS was available for the 1st time in a women’s bilateral series on the Aussie soil. England made a good use of it in the first innings. Meanwhile, Wyatt reached her 50 in the 11th over and England were cruising towards putting up big target. However, Tahlia McGrath dragged them back by taking 3 wickets including the dangerous looking Wyatt (70 off 54) and Sciver (32 off 23). After 20 overs, England managed to put up a total of 169-4.
The terror of McGrath complemented by the poise of Lanning
In the Australian chase, Meg Lanning walked out to open with Alyssa Healy. But the opening pair didn’t last long as Ecclestone took the wicket of Healy on the last ball of the 4th over. Interestingly, Tahlia McGrath was promoted up to the no. 3 position. It was only her 4th Int’l T20I match, but she overshadowed the batting maestro Lanning. While McGrath was smacking one ball after the other to the boundary line, Lanning was playing the supporting role and was milking every loose ball she was getting through the covers. McGrath reached her half-century in the 11th over in just 28 balls, while Lanning played a captain’s knock and made a well-poised 38-ball fifty. They put up a magnificent 144-runs stand out of which Tahlia made 91.
What a run chase!
Where a target of 170 could have been a steep one for the Aussies, both the batters took the game away from England by storm. There were no demons in the pitch and the English bowling was just looking toothless. When nothing was going right for England, their skipper Heather Knight brought herself into the attack and conceded the remaining 17 runs that Australia needed. They chased down a record 170 runs quite comfortably by losing just one wicket.
Is McGrath the perfect replacement of Perry?
With the declining scoring rate of Perry, which is not ideal for this format of the game, and McGrath’s rise in this Aussie summer since the India series, it is safe to say that for the shortest format that Australia have found a better player for the pace all-rounders’ role in Tahlia McGrath. It just shows the depth that the Australian domestic set-up has despite losing and dropping a few match-winners they have.
And for her all-round exhibition with the bat and ball, she was adjudged the Player of the Match.
Milestone: In this match, Meg Lanning became the first Australian player and the 3rd overall, after Suzie Bates (3344 runs) and Stafanie Taylor (3121 runs) to score 3,000 T20I runs.