After her T20 debut didn’t go to plan on Thursday night thanks to the Gold Coast weather, Tahlia McGrath guided Australia to a four-wicket win in the second T20 – and sealed the Multi-Format series win against India in the process – with a game-winning innings with the bat.
Heading into Game 2 of the T20 leg, the hosts were delicately poised to claim the trophy, leading seven points to five from the results of the previous ODIs, Test, and Game 1 of the T20s.
Meg Lanning won the toss for the 6th time this series and elected to field first at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast, proving to be beneficial as Australia claimed the scalps of both the Indian openers inside the first three overs with Tayla Vlaeminck’s fast-paced bowling.
Australia remained tight with their bowling, putting in a much more consistent showing than the first T20 game which saw India look to post a big total before the rain intervened. But it was the side’s fielding as well that proved to be a key contributor to its game, limiting India from a huge total.
While a late-innings cameo from Indian bowler Pooja Vastrakar (37* off 26) saw the visitor’s total climb, eventually finishing 9/118, the Aussies needed to work well with the bat.
Much like the beginning of India’s innings, Australia too were on the back foot from the first over, Alyssa Healy (four) sent back to the sheds, undone by a delivery that deviated at an almighty angle that saw the ball crash into the stumps.
Australia kept the pace with the required run rate as wickets tumbled, however, impressive knocks from Beth Mooney (34 off 36) and Tahlia McGrath (42* off 33) lead their country to a memorable victory.
For McGrath, who missed an opportunity to bat when Game 1 of the T20 series was washed out, she made certain that her first chance at the crease in an international T20 would count the most.
Coming in when the side was positioned at 4/46, still, 73 runs adrift with 65 balls remaining, she recalled the advice head coach Matthew Mott, and partner at the crease Mooney, gave her when it was her turn in the middle.
“Motty (Matthew Mott) said to me before I went out to ‘play straight, get yourself in, so that was my initial plan,” McGrath told media post-game on the Gold Coast.
“One of the first things Moons (Beth Mooney) said to me was ‘it’s a lot easier this position that we’re in than 50 over games’.
“When she put it like that, at that stage it was only a run a ball, we were making it a lot harder than it seemed so [it was] just back to basics, getting myself in and then going from there.”
The 25-year old also won Player of the Match, her heroics out in the middle achieved by a belief that after a similar game-defining inning in the ODI series almost three weeks ago, she was able to recapture that form and for it to translate into the T20s.
“I was definitely disappointed when I got out in that second ODI and not to be there at the end,” McGrath recounted.
“That’s something that we speak a lot about in this side and Motty’s pretty big on it, that the set batter has got to be there, not out at the end so it’s a pretty big non-negotiable in our team.
“When you’re in and set, you’ve got to stick your hand up and be there at the end so that was really important for me today and I didn’t want to leave the job undone so [I’m] very happy with how it played out.”
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First making her international debut in the green and gold for an ODI series against South Africa in 2016 at Coffs Harbour, McGrath has been amongst the team but not always in the starting 11, even after making her Test debut almost a year later against England at North Sydney Oval.
Fast-forward to the present, McGrath has been involved in each of the matches between Australia and India and is enjoying the consecutive stretch of matches where she’s representing her country and playing amongst and learning from some of the best cricketers in the world.
“I’ve just loved to be able to string a few games for Australia together,” she said.
“Getting that initial taste made me that hungry to get back to the biggest stage so for me it was getting back to state cricket, working as hard as I could, and trying to contribute to both the [South Australian] Scorpions and the [Adelaide] Strikers where I could.
“I’ve been in-and-out of the side over the last five or so years so first and foremost, just to be able to play back-to-back games and contribute to the team’s success has been really special for me. It’s been an unbelievable series, I’m just loving every minute of it.
“The Aussie team is the best side in the world so it’s a very hard side to crack into so I knew that once I got my chance I would have to take it with both hands so [I’m] loving how it’s going at the moment and loving being part of the team.”
The final game of the Multi-Format series against India is on Sunday night at Metricon Stadium
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