Picking up right where she left off in the Australia-India series, captain Tahlia McGrath led her Adelaide Strikers to a 30 run win against defending champions the Sydney Thunder.
McGrath put 42 runs on the board, took three wickets, and even held onto a catch, for a performance that saw her named Player of the Match.
The stellar, Player of the Series form that McGrath showed in Queensland has travelled with her to the much cooler climate of Hobart for the WBBL.
Speaking to the broadcast after the match, McGrath said she was feeling confident and didn’t mind the quick transition from Green and Gold to Blue.
“It was a quick transition, Aussie shirt off, Strikers shirt on.
“I took a lot of confidence and momentum from the Australian series and, for me, it’s just been about simplifying my game and playing to my strengths.
“And at the moment that’s working for me, so I’ll roll with it for a bit longer.”
McGrath was at the crease earlier than she would have liked, as the Thunder got on top of the Powerplay with three quick wickets.
New recruit Dané van Nierkerk looked comfortable at the crease early, a nice cover drive bringing up the Strikers’ first boundary, but just as quickly as van Nierkerk settled Sammy-Jo Johnson struck with the ball.
Johnson also took a remarkable catch to remove Strikers’ South African big-hitter, Laura Wolvaardt and suddenly the Strikers were 3/26.
After Hannah Darlington ripped through Bridget Patterson, hitting the top of middle stump, it was up to McGrath and her batting partner Madeline Penna to get some runs on the board and rebuild the stuttering innings.
Luckily McGrath is “loving” the middle-order position she’s playing at the moment.
“At the top didn’t quite work for me last year, but I’m loving coming in that middle order and working my way into my innings, and then hopefully giving myself a chance to go big at the end.
“I think at the top I was taking unnecessary risks and just putting too much pressure on myself.
“In the middle, I come in, we’re potentially four out when I come in, and just work the ball away and get my way into my innings and, like I said, play to my strengths.
Tahlia McGrath and Madeline Penna put together a 69 run partnership, only broken by a Phoebe Litchfield catch in the deep to remove McGrath (42 from 34). Penna (35 from 37) followed shortly after, also to Lauren Smith’s bowling.
Amanda-Jade Wellington also added 15 runs to the board, as the Strikers posted a strong total of 140.
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Adelaide were feeling good about the total posted and immediately put the pressure on the Thunder with Darcie Brown and McGrath striking early with a wicket each in the powerplay.
Litchfield and Corrine Hall started to put a partnership together, but Jemma Barsby spoiled the party and took her first wicket in Blue, removing the young gun Litchfield.
Back-to-back wickets for McGrath, both caught by Patterson at midwicket, put the Strikers in the box seat and the pressure was too much for the Sydney Thunder.
The ninth wicket fell thanks to a stellar catch by Patterson on the boundary line. A one-handed effort while in the air, she realised her position on the rope and kept the ball in play before re-taking the catch.
A mild celebration for the second-last wicket, but the match was all-but-over and a first win secured by the Strikers.
“I’m not going to lie, there were a few nerves there, but I’m just pretty relieved more than anything to come away from the win, and hopefully that sets us up for a big tournament,” McGrath shared after the match.
Megan Schutt, a previous captain, and current player sent McGrath a message before her first game in charge, showing her support and encouraging McGrath to “back [her]self and the team will get around [her].”
And that they did, as the Strikers opened their WBBL|07 campaign with a 30 run victory.
The Adelaide Strikers will return to Blundstone Arena on October 20 to face the Melbourne Renegades at 1:25pm AEDT.
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