An unbroken third-wicket partnership worth 141 between Tahlia McGrath and Beth Mooney rescued Australia from a shaky start against Pakistan to secure a third win from as many matches at the Commonwealth Games.
Australia – already assured of a place in the semi-finals – had slumped to 19 for 2 inside the first six overs before McGrath hammered her way to 78 not out off 51 balls and Mooney reached an unbeaten 70 off 49 at Edgbaston. It was the fourth time McGrath has gone unbeaten in her six career T20I innings. McGrath also took 3 for 13 from three overs as Pakistan’s pursuit of 161 faltered.
Pakistan were bundled out of the tournament after going winless from their three matches, meaning that the winner of the evening match between India and Barbados would progress to the knockout stages with Australia from Group A.
Pakistan couldn’t have hoped for a better beginning after restricting the gold-medal favourites to 22 for 2 in the powerplay, having claimed the prized wickets of Alyssa Healy and Meg Lanning, both for just four runs each.
Healy was dropped off the bowling of Diana Baig in the first over when she sent a thick edge to first slip, where Omaima Sohail failed to hold on. The damage was limited, however, when Healy fell without adding to her score in the next over edging an excellent delivery from Fatima Sana which angled in, found the inside edge and clattered into leg stump.
Sadia Iqbal, playing her first match of the Games, then struck in the sixth over with a gem to beat Lanning and pegged back off stump. After six overs, Australia had found the boundary just three times and were scoring at a run rate of 3.67.
McGrath and Mooney began to regain control, adding 36 runs in the next four overs to recover to 58 for 2 at the halfway point of the innings. After reaching 30 from 24 balls, McGrath was adjudged lbw to Iqbal when she was struck on the back pad attempting to reverse sweep, but overturned the decision on review with replays showing the ball had brushed her glove on the way through.
McGrath’s shot-placement was sublime. She stroked two fours in three balls off Sohail, muscled over cover and swept through backward square leg before moving to a 37-ball fifty in the next over with a powerful drive to the rope at long-off from the bowling of Iqbal.
Mooney brought up her fifty in 42 balls with a single off Aiman Anwer to also raise the century stand. The 19th over, bowled by Sana, went for 21 runs, including a six each to Mooney, launched over deep square leg, and McGrath finer but with plenty of power behind it. Twelve runs off the final over, by Anwer, including four from McGrath through cover off a full toss to close the innings, had Australia in command.
Pakistan were 8 for 2 after just two overs with Megan Schutt removing Muneeba Ali with the third ball of their reply, slashing straight to Darcie Brown at backward point. Brown then chimed in with the wicket of Iram Javed in the next over, skying an attempted pull to Grace Harris at short midwicket.
After six overs Pakistan were ahead of the curve at 32 for 2 but needed something massive from captain Bismah Maroof. She enjoyed a let-off when she spooned Ash Gardner straight to mid-off where Harris shelled a simple chance.
Alana King, who took a career-best 4 for 8 in Australia’s nine-wicket victory over Barbados, entered the attack immediately afterwards and struck right away, bowling Sohail with a beauty that brushed the pad and hit leg stump two-thirds of the way up. When Aliya Riaz was run out, effectively sacrificed by Maroof who sent her back halfway through a second run, Pakistan slumped to 47 for 4 in the 10th over.
McGrath capped a wonderful all-round effort with three wickets, includuing two in two balls. She had Ayesha Naseem well caught by King, running round to long-on to take a high one just inside the rope.
Then she ended Maroof’s laboured innings of 23 from 32 balls when a miscued drive sailed to Jess Jonassen at mid-on and, next ball, trapped Tuba Hassan lbw playing across a straight one. When Baig left the hat-trick ball alone outside off, Healy shot a smile from behind the stumps at first slip, where Lanning stood once more, having dropped a catch there which would have given King a hat-trick in the previous match. Sana finished unbeaten on 35, but her team fell well short.